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JAMAICA: Bust of Labour Movement Activist Agnes Bernard Unveiled

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#Jamaica, May 19, 2022 – A bust of Agnes “Aggie” Bernard, a stalwart in Jamaica’s labour movement, has been erected at the Kingston Craft Market located downtown.

The sculpture, which rests atop an existing monument in her honour, was commissioned in partnership between the Ministry of Labour and Social Security and the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport.

It was unveiled during a ceremony on Wednesday (May 18) to kick off Workers’ Week from May 15 to 23 under the theme ‘Repositioning Jamaica’s Labour Market post COVID-19’.

Speaking at the unveiling, Culture Minister, Hon. Olivia Grange, said that Ms. Bernard was one of the foremost pioneering women activists in Jamaica’s labour movement during the 1938 labour riots that were pivotal in Jamaica’s political development.

“We honour one of the truly outstanding women of Jamaica, a heroine in her own right. Aggie was truly one of the great and faithful servants of the labour movement in Jamaica,” she said.

“At the age of 28 in 1938, she was there when Alexander Bustamante, who had decided to lead the workers, and Garveyite, St. William Grant, were arrested fighting for the cause of striking workers. Seeing all of this, Aggie was moved to lend a hand to the cause and what a mighty hand that was,” Ms. Grange recounted.

The Minster said that the decision not only changed Aggie’s life, but it had a signal effect on the labour movement in Jamaica.

“She used up all the money she had at the time, the grand sum of five shillings and sixpence to buy bread, coffee and sugar for the hungry strikers. Admiring and supporting her move, sympathisers stepped in and gave money for food,” Ms. Grange said.

In 1976, Aggie was honoured with the Order of Distinction in recognition of her outstanding service to the trade union movement and her contribution to nationhood. The Organization of American States (OAS) also awarded her a special certificate of merit. She died on October 7, 1980 and was given an official funeral and buried at National Heroes Park.

Ms. Grange said that the bust of Aggie Bernard is a tribute to the workers of Jamaica and is one of the Legacy Projects for the country’s diamond jubilee.

For his part, Labour Minister, Hon. Karl Samuda, in a speech read by Chief Technical Director in the Ministry, Dione Jennings, said Workers’ Week recognises workers across Jamaica for their unwavering contribution to the economic growth and development of the society.

He said that this year’s theme recognises that “if Jamaica is to recover lost ground and continue on the road to economic prosperity, it will be the Jamaican worker who will have to redouble our efforts, in every sector, to improve our productivity and increase our earning power”.

The Minister noted that Jamaica has come a long way since the devastating labour riots in 1938, when the workers took action all over the island to press for improved working conditions.

Those actions, he said, led to the establishment of the Minimum Wage Act and a Labour Department, which was the precursor to the current Ministry of Labour, both in 1938.

“No longer do we, as a people, have to resort to rioting, strikes and other counter-productive measures to have our voices heard. We now settle our grievances by engaging an established conciliatory process,” Mr. Samuda said.

“In spite of the recent cases of unrest, the peace and industrial harmony which we generally enjoy has come at great cost. And so, we gather here, at this, the Monument to the Workers of 1938, which stands as a reminder of the bravery and tenacity of the workers and leaders, who risked their lives to [improve] the condition of labour in Jamaica. The nation salutes you, our unsung heroes,” he said.

Meanwhile, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, said the Government respects and appreciates the rights of “every single Jamaican to advocate for better and improved working conditions”.

“The Government is not lost as to the concerns of the workers. The Government is committed in every way to ensure that the workers are rewarded in a meaningful way,” Mr. McKenzie said.

 

Release: Latonya Linton

Release: JIS

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Jamaica Rum Festival Endorsed

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#Jamaica, June 27, 2022 – Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange, endorsed this year’s fourth staging of the Jamaica Rum Festival at the Aqueduct in Rose Hall, St. James, on Saturday (June 25).

Ms. Grange, who officially opened the event, noted that rum, and spirits in general, has deep cultural significance in Jamaica, spanning centuries.

“From the cane fields, where our enslaved ancestors worked, through to today, where we have the best rum in the world… we have a lot to be proud of,” she added.

For his part, Tourism Director, Donovan White, commended the organisers of the festival, which attracted a significant number of patrons, including visitors from overseas.  He said the Ministry of Tourism, through the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) and Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), was pleased to be a partner in the event that showcased top quality products by local rum purveyors.

Minister Grange, representatives from the Tourism Ministry’s agencies, and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, were presented with limited edition Wray and Nephew White Overproof Rum.

 

Contact; Okoye Henry

Release: JIS

 

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Education Ministry Recommits to Expanding Uniformed Groups in Schools

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#Jamaica, June 27, 2022 – The Ministry of Education and Youth remains committed to increasing the number of uniformed groups in schools.  This is in keeping with its thrust to fulfill this mission under the Safety and Security in Schools Programme, Portfolio Minister, Hon. Fayval Williams, has said.  She further noted that “it is a part of our series of measures to improve discipline among students.”

Mrs. Williams was speaking during the Council of Voluntary Social Services’ (CVSS) uniformed groups church service on Sunday (June 26).  The service was held at St. Luke’s Anglican Church in Cross Roads, Kingston.

Mrs. Williams remarks came against the background of what she said were “heightened concerns” in recent months over incidents of violence in schools across Jamaica and calls for a more concerted effort to provide civic and character education for students.  She noted that several initiatives within the Ministry to address these concerns were being expanded, among them support for uniformed groups in schools.

“The Ministry has been supporting uniformed youth groups in the development of a Three-Year Strategic Plan and [Memoranda of Understanding] with individual groups which will, at one and the same time, advance the missions of the groups and the mandate of the Ministry to these groups,” Mrs. Williams added.

The Minister pointed out that these cohorts, including Girl Guides, Brownies, Boys Brigade, Cub Scouts, Cadets and Pathfinders, “have played an invaluable role in shaping the character and awakening the social conscience of our young people for decades.”

“It has been well-established that students who participate in clubs are more out-going as they are engaged in activities that support socialisation with their peers. These students tend to be more comfortable in group settings where communication and team-work are necessary. This is a valuable asset as it will also benefit these students outside of the school setting,” she stated.

Mrs. Williams said the activities engaged in at meetings also complement classroom learning and emphasise social, emotional, and physical development.

Additionally, she said they provide opportunities for informal learning and life experiences.

“Uniformed youth groups represent a cohort of the nation’s youth that is organised around a set of core values, such as honour, discipline, service, loyalty, commitment, integrity, perseverance, industry and spiritual fortitude,” the Minister emphasised.

She noted that while most are based in schools, units may also be organised at church and community levels.

“Indeed, we know that the church has been a main source through which many new members are recruited. There is a challenge, however, and that is, over the past few years, there has not been as robust an interest in these groups as in previous decades,” Mrs. Williams indicated.

She said it was acknowledged that the society’s youth now have many more interests and distractions, “but we should still try to encourage them to see the value in participating in groups such as these”, while citing an “urgent need” for volunteer adult leaders.

The Minister also noted that older and more traditional groups, such as Boys Scouts and Girl Guides, are international in scope and maintain linkages with the worldwide movements.

“Support from these fraternal organisations has, however, diminished over the years, and local organisations must find the resources to sustain operations and pay the required affiliation fees. So once again, it is important that we, in the local community, pitch in to provide the needed support,” she added.

In this regard, the Minister commended members of the uniformed groups and CVSS for ongoing efforts to forge long-term alliances that facilitate mutual support and joint action.

Further, she said, for representing the concerns of the social sector, including disadvantaged and vulnerable groups, at the regional and international levels.

“We, as a collective, continue to dedicate ourselves to creating a supportive and safe environment for our students to learn and experience as much as possible to become productive members of society,” Mrs. Williams stated.

 

Contact: Douglas McIntosh

Release: JIS

 

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Anguilla Economic Affairs Minister Quits; calling it a conscience move

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By Shanieka Smith

Features Writer

 

#Anquilla, June 27, 2022 – After penning a three-page resignation letter to Premier Ellis Lorenzo Webster, the Minister of Economic Development, Commerce, Information Technology and Natural Resources, Kyle Hodge has officially resigned from the Anguilla Progressive Movement (APM).

“I am submitting this letter of resignation because my conscience and commitments to the people of Anguilla no longer permit me to serve as a member of the Anguilla Progressive Movement and minister of government in your administration,” he wrote.

Included in his letter are his reasons for resigning and that entails his concerns on Goods and Services Tax (GST) which is scheduled to come into Force on July 1, the lack of organised leadership, and the lack of party structure.

“I believe that my dissenting vote on the Good and Services Tax (GST) marked the initial fraying of our relationship; since then we have not been on the same page. There is a mutual lack of trust and understanding and most importantly, our goals for the Anguillan people have fully diverged and there is little common ground,” said the resigned minister.

He also shared his concern regarding the approach and tone of the government towards Anguillans.

“Politics in Anguilla must change and it actually started when the people demanded more of use and I am very comfortable with that demand. You deserve nothing less,” said Hodge in a Facebook post. He also thanked the people who have supported him in his decision to resign.

Hodge added that he will continue to serve the people who elected him since he will still be a member of the House of Assembly.

He said, “my resignation today does not mean GST disappears, so let us continue to unite our efforts to either make it more palatable or find other ways to collect the revenue that is needed to run the country. I wish the entire government a healthy and prosperous term in office. I also take this time to commend you for the relief package granted to the people of Anguilla as we deal with hyperinflation in Anguilla.

Thank you for allowing me to serve as Minister of Economic Development, Investment, Commerce, Natural Resources and Information Technology. I wish you the very best politically and otherwise.”

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