STATEMENT BY HON. MOSES V. NAGAMOOTOO PRIME MINISTER AND CHAIRMAN OF THE NATIONAL COVID-19 TASK FORCE ON THE OCCASION OF MAY DAY, 2020
WORKERS MUST HELP TO BEAT THIS PANDEMIC
On the occasion of May Day 2020, I send fraternal greetings to all working people of Guyana, especially those serving in essential services, and others who are working from home.
I reach out in solidarity to our dedicated medical and health care providers, members of the disciplined, sanitary, port health services, and all other frontline workers. I want you to know that our Government and our entire grateful nation appreciate your sacrifices and dedication as we together battle the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic.
This is the single greatest threat facing our nation; and workers must help, on the coast and in the hinterland, to beat this dreaded pandemic. There is much that we have collectively worked for that is worth defending with discipline and optimism, which is the prospect of a good life!
This pandemic has already thrown hundreds of million out of jobs. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) said this week that one billion six hundred million (1.6 billion) or one-half of the global workforce in the informal economy, will become jobless.
Everywhere there have been cutbacks in hours of work, shut-down of factories, and closure of manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade. COVID-19 has grounded cruise ships and airlines, crippled hotels and restricted the entertainment and food services. This year, Labour Day celebrations have been cancelled, and a new shout for help, “May Day! May Day!” is coming from workers around the world.
The Caribbean will experience a devastating impact with the threat to tourism, through closure of our air spaces, commercial airline services, and the hotel and hospitality sectors.
Today, more than any time before, the slogan “workers of the world unite” has assumed a new meaning, which is for survival against the onslaught of the pandemic and for protection of livelihood in the face of an inexorable melt-down of the world’s economy.
In Guyana, we are hopeful that we could contain the spread of this virus. We could limit casualties among our loved ones. We could prevent severe damages to our economic life. We could do these through responsible conduct, by promoting the various health safety measures that are in place, and by observing proper personal hygiene.
Over the years our working people have seen important social gains. Though there were some setbacks, those in the public services received increased salaries, tax concessions and other incentives. They have had a glimpse of the good life under our Coalition Government, and were poised to benefit from our new petroleum industry.
Though the organized labour movement is unable this year to stage the traditional Labour Day parades, it is still a time for quiet reflection on the long journey of workers for industrial democracy, and for celebration of the many gains of the Guyanese working class.