Cleaning and beautifying Jamaica’s heritage centrepiece, the National Heroes Park, in Kingston, is this year’s designated national project for Labour Day, to be observed on May 23. This will be complemented by various parish projects, which will also be earmarked for general cleaning up and beautification on that day, under the theme for Labour Day and Workers’ Week (May 20 to 26): ‘Step Forward…Make Jamaica Beautiful’.
Speaking on May 7, at the launch of the activities, at Jamaica House, Youth and Culture Minister, Hon. Lisa Hanna, said the week kicks off on Sunday, May 20, with the National Church Service at the Calvary Baptist Church in Montego Bay, St. James. On Monday, May 21, there will be a Workers’ Week/Labour Day Information Hub, organised by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, at the Half-Way Tree Transportation Centre, between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.
The Minister advised that Ministries, Departments and Agencies will be invited to set up booths for interaction with the public. Ms. Hanna said that in addition to the projects to be undertaken, Labour Day will also be marked by special tributes to National Hero, the Rt. Excellent Samuel Sharpe, at shrines erected in his honour at National Heroes Park, and Sam Sharpe Square in Montego Bay. The day will culminate with the national Labour Day concert, on the Kingston waterfront, beginning at 6:00 p.m.
Inviting wide-scale participation on Labour Day, the Minister informed that the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) has created a special slot on its website for on-line registration of projects, adding that the agency will use this medium to collate and provide updates on these. Access can be had via direct link at: www.jis.gov.jm/labourday.
Ms. Hanna said the focus of this year’s Labour Day activities was based on the recognition that many of the country’s public spaces, a number of which will host activities marking Jamaica’s Independence Jubilee, were in need of cleaning and beautification.
The Minister informed that Labour Day activities are the preparatory and roll out phase for the jubilee celebrations, being observed under the theme: ‘Jamaica 50: Nation on a Mission’. Part of this mission, she stressed, is helping to “restore the national beauty of Jamaica, to clean up our surroundings and encourage greater productivity.”
Ms. Hanna said the tribute to Sam Sharpe is in recognition of the contribution he was deemed to have played in the movement towards the abolishment of slavery, pointing out that, “this has, really, never received the kind of focus (it deserved).”
“We are a nation on a mission, let us step forward and, certainly, make Jamaica beautiful,” the Minister urged.
In launching the activities, Prime Minister the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, said the theme represented a call to action for emphasis to be placed on cleaning and beautifying the environment.
“It will not be possible to honour our heritage without honouring ourselves and cleaning up our country,” Mrs. Simpson Miller stressed, while urging broad-scale participation through voluntarism.
For his part, Labour and Social Security Minister, Hon. Derrick Kellier, noted that Jamaica’s development over the last 50 years has been characterised by the grit, determination, endurance and sacrifice of the nation’s working class.
“This is why the occasion of our 50th anniversary of independence is such an ideal time for us to pause and reflect on the contribution of the masses of the population. This is the background against which I wish to summon the society to use Workers’ Week to discuss debate and reason the value of labour to our development, and to exercise maximum voluntarism on Labour Day in the continuing development and beautification of our communities, villages and towns,” he said.
Meanwhile, Director of the Hugh Lawson Shearer Trade Union Education Institute, University of the West Indies, Mona, Danny Roberts, urged that the theme reflects “more than the symbolism of our country’s physical beauty.”
“A beautiful Jamaica must be one which not only brings the light to our eyes, but must also affect our other faculties…our sense of hearing, feeling, and is satisfying and impressive to us morally and intellectually. This is what the significance of the theme must mean to us, as Jamaicans, particularly as we reflect on our 50 years of independence, and are ready to step forward to the next 50 years,” he said.