Today, as we celebrate Labour Day, we must never forget that the man who was one of the most important pioneers of the labour movement in Trinidad and Tobago, is the man after whom our headquarters here is named.
Adrian Cola Rienzi, who was born Krishna Deonarine, and who championed the causes of the sugar workers alongside his great friend Butler.
We have a proud, fearless, pioneering legacy in the labour movement of our country. let nobody tell you otherwise.
This is the history that has made us a Labour/Worker-friendly Government. A Government that has delivered for workers and all sectors of society since 2010.
Today, there are others marching in Fyzabad and promoting the Leader of the Opposition’s cause of reversing every area of progress we have made. These people claim to represent workers, but they are trying to elect a man who’s every word and action tells us that he will make life hard and challenging for working men and women.
We are the party of the workers.
It was OUR great party that was born out of the struggles of labour, and it is OUR great party that has delivered social justice to working men and women.
You know it was our Government that saved 3 Unions from decertification under the PNM. Our government that reduced unemployment to 3.6 per cent and increased the minimum hourly wage TWICE, from $9 to $12.50 to $15.
We facilitated the settlement of 97 state and public sector collective agreements during the period May 2010 to April 29, 2015. We amended the Maternity Protection Act to provide paid maternity leave from 13 to 14 weeks in accordance with international standards.
The Labour Advocate Training Programme was introduced by our Government in 2012 across many communities. To date 61 persons have been trained as Labour Advocates across communities in both Trinidad and Tobago.
In 2014 the Social Dialogue Task Force (SDTF) was established by Cabinet to facilitate consensus-building among representatives of Government, employers, workers and civil society on issues affecting the social and economic sustainability of Trinidad and Tobago. The social dialogue process for the country is the foundation through which an unprecedented level of unity among national stakeholders can be achieved.
After more than 3 decades in abeyance, the Industrial Relations Advisory Committee (IRAC) was reconstituted in to advise the Labour Minister on any matters relating to industrial relations, as well as, to ensure the development and reform of the Industrial Relations Act.
I am proud too that 12 years after the closure of the sugar cane industry, Cabinet has approved $130 million compensation for cane farmers to be used for agricultural diversification. Our Minister of Planning Dr. Tewarie, who is the national authorising officer for the EU Grant Resources, said the schedule for disbursement shows a first tranche of $27 million, followed by a second tranche of $75 million and a third tranche of $28 million to be paid in 2016.
I make this promise to you too. When we are re-elected for second term my government will ensure pay equity to end gender discrimination in wages.
Let nobody tell you that this government has not delivered for workers. I’m proud to stand on that record at this Election and do you know what? I have a carefully considered plan that will deliver for workers and all sectors of our society. My vision and goal is prosperity for all. Its not a pipedream. We’re not going to walk out on the job. We are going to work hard and we are going to serve the people. Power to the people!
You know 90% of our manifesto pledges of 2010 have been kept because I believe that when you promise the people, you make a contract with them.
Whatever the promise, whatever your job, your word must be your bond and this is why I ensured that all of my Ministers worked hard and delivered to you, the people.
When we speak about delivery, and the fact that this Government has out-performed and out-delivered every previous administration in our history, it is because I came to office with a plan.
And what’s even more important at the present time I intend to continue, with a clear plan for the people of Trinidad & Tobago.
Coming to office in 2010, based on what you said to me in our conversations, my vision was for us to achieve.
A sustainable growth economy, a better, more desirable future for all, in a nation united in purpose, committed to productivity, achievement and creation and respectful of the environment.
By the end of our first term, my vision was for our people to be healthier, happier, more productive and enjoying an even better quality of life.
It is that founding vision which is the basis of my clear plan for the next five years.
We will keep the economy on track and deliver prosperity for all the people of Trinidad and Tobago.
One of our major planks going forward will be a dedicated effort to intensify the diversification of our economy to create jobs and promote growth.
We will focus more on Private Sector investments and public/private partnerships to stimulate diversification in areas like Finance, Information and Communications Technology, Tourism, Maritime Industries, Food Sustainability, Creative Industries and Energy Services.
We will target work with the Manufacturing Sector to achieve higher levels of exports.
We will continue to invest significantly in education and training to improve skills and help our people get better jobs.
Industries cannot compete in the world and grow exports without enhanced productivity and no country can make significant progress in the world unless the people are productive.
People must feel safe and protected in their country and this is why we will continue our aggressive efforts to fight crime. I will take a zero tolerance approach towards crime.
We will do our utmost to deliver quality healthcare and education and will invest in buildings, facilities and training.
We will deliver the crucial infrastructure to improve our citizen’s lives and to link our communities.
We will deliver major projects such as the Highway from San Fernando to Mayaro, the Access on the Ocean Front to Chaguaramas, the Establishment of Dry-docking facilities in La Brea, A Medical Tourism hospital in the East West Corridor and The San Fernando Waterfront Development Project.
So having promised and delivered a turnaround, stability, growth and progress in our first term, our work must continue into the second term if we are to truly achieve a nation we can celebrate.
We must strive to be a just nation, driven by good and transparent governance, where the people have power over the politicians, and where we are working together with a common objective of prosperity for all!
My vision for the nation we must continue building together is one that stands on a strong foundation of:
Human Rights, and
So when you see our policies putting you, the people at the centre, and when you see tremendous resources being put behind the health, growth, education and protection of our children, this is why…
Because we are managing today and securing your livelihoods, with a commitment and dedication to ensuring that our future leaders will inherit a nation they will proudly defend, and build even further.
I pledge to keep the flame of our nation’s renewal burning bright in our hearts and minds. The dream we gave birth to in 2010 is very much alive and we remain this nation’s best and only opportunity for a better future that includes everyone.
I have always strived to do my best for my country and our people. We’ve seen unprecedented delivery and improvement in people’s lives. We have achieved much but there is still so much to do.
As a country we are proud of our workers. I promise you we won’t let you down.
I thank you.
Office of the Prime Minister