By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
WORKERS and trade unions in Grand Bahama will hold the third annual Sir Randol Fawkes Labour Day march on June 5 for the first time in the settlement of Eight Mile Rock.
Kirkland Russell, vice-president of the Bahamas Hotel Managerial Association, with several trade union leaders made the announcement yesterday. Mr Russell said that a decision was made to have the parade in Eight Mile Rock because it is the largest community, with the largest concentration of workers in the country.
“We felt it was fitting to take the parade to that community this year and we are inviting all workers and unions in Grand Bahama to celebrate with us. We are asking companies, those that are unionised those that are not, churches, civic organisations and schools and every Bahamian to join us in our annual Labour Day March,” he said.
The march will start at 9am at St David’s Church in Sea Grape Corner and go to Lover’s Beach in Hepburn Town, Eight Mile Rock, where a rally will be held. Mr Russell said that a number of concerns will be discussed, including minimum wage, the employment of casual workers and health and safety at the workplace.
The trade unions believe that the current minimum wage is too low and is calling on government to raise it from $150 per week to $350, commensurate with the cost of living. They are also opposed to the hiring of casual workers at the major companies in Grand Bahama.
Mr Russell said there is no policy in the country that governs or regulates the casual workforce and employment agencies. He said that health and safety in the workplace is another big issue affecting many workers in Grand Bahama.
“We will have a good cadre of speakers lined up and activities for everyone to enjoy,” he said.
Mr Russell said this year they will be supporting Pastor Eddie Victor, of Living Water Assembly of God Church, who will hold a cook-out at the rally site in aid of his church’s Building Fund.
“Pastor Victor, who lost his church to a devastating fire, has been a true warrior for workers and we are pleased to support him in his fundraising efforts,” he said.
Mr Deron Brookes, vice-president of Bahamas Customs Immigration Allied Workers Union, said Labour Day is not about unions. “It is about workers, but we must also commemorate what our forefathers (like the late Sir Randol Fawkes, the ‘Father of Labour’) did and the struggles they had, and how they got us to this point,” he said.
Julian Russell, a member of the Trade Union Congress, said that in Grand Bahama there are many questions concerning the industrial businesses, the Grand Bahama Port Authority and the Hawksbill Creek Agreement. “We feel we should also be included in those talks as to how things should move forward because it represents all of us,” he said.
Also endorsing the march was Leslie Lightbourne, president of the Commonwealth Electrical Workers Union, and David Jones, president of the Grand Bahama Taxi Union.