Its origin lies in what is known as ‘the Haymarket Affair’ which occurred on May 4th, 1886, in Chicago, Illinois, when police, trying to break up a public gathering of workers who were on strike agitating for an 8-hour work day, killed four persons.
Not all countries celebrate and commemorate this event on May 1st. Some, for example, St. Kitts & Nevis, do so on the first Monday in May.
The term ‘May Day’ is also used as a distress radio signal in maritime, aviation and other emergency situations.
As we approach Labour Day in St. Kitts, Monday, May 5th, I invite you to reflect on whether it’s more appropriate to celebrate the successes of workers throughout history, or to mark the day as a day of distress for the workers. And as you reflect on this, please, note that we’ve had a so-called Labour Government in office for the past 19 years.
In order to assist you in your reflections, let me share with you the objectives of the Labour Party as outlined in Article II of its Constitution:
- To achieve and maintain political independence for the people of the State;
- To promote the political, social and economic welfare of all of the people of the State;
- To maintain a vigorous and conscious vanguard for removing all forms of oppression and for the maintenance of democratic government;
- To work with and in the interest of the St. Kitts-Nevis Trades and Labour Union and other kindred organizations, in joint political or other actions, in harmony with the Constitution and Standing Orders of the Party;
- To co-operate with other democratic organizations in the Caribbean and elsewhere with a view to promoting the welfare of our country and the Caribbean; and
- To secure and maintain the complete unity of the people of the State in their struggle for political, social and economic advancement.
Let us look at each of those six objectives.
Firstly, what has the Labour Government, over the 19 years in office, done to promote and maintain true political independence for the people of St. Kitts & Nevis? The answer is: very little or nothing.
Indeed, it can be argued that under the leadership of Denzil the Imposter, the process has been reversed. A handful of very rich persons buttress up his Party, and, you know, once that happens, they’ll want their pound of flesh. So it is they who control the Government, which means that you, the people, have no real political independence. And this has been one of the main reasons the defective electoral machinery that we have has been maintained, and why so much electoral fraud takes place. They’re playing with you! Messing with you!
Some of that money should be in the public purse as taxes and other dues to Government. Instead, it remains in the hands of the rich backers, or their surrogates, and used as a tool to fool the masses in New Town, Irish Town, Trafalgar, Old Road, Saddlers, Phillips and Conaree, dangling a little red meat, and a lot of indoctrination and propaganda (especially now that Strategic Communication Laboratories, the British mind-bending firm has been engaged by Denzil the Imposter) at the masses in a bid to entertain them and have them unwittingly celebrate their own marginalization and degradation, while the rich backers and their errand boys and girls in Government laugh.
Secondly, has the Douglas Administration promoted the political, social and economic welfare of all of the people of the State? Again, the answer is: No. Our Constitution is serially abused, Denzil the Imposter is serially abusive, our state radio and TV station is a propaganda arm of his party, there is no transparency and accountability in government, political opponents are demonized, our health, education and other social services are unsatisfactory, there’s more depravity and deprivation in our country than there’s been since the 1930’s, over 30% of our people live below the poverty line, and nearly 20% of our work force are engaged in a temporary Government work program.
Thirdly, has the Douglas Administration maintained a vigorous and conscious vanguard for removing all forms of oppression and for the maintenance of democratic government? No!
Instead, it has corrupted a number of ordinary people, and corruption is one of the most heinous forms of oppression, both for those who have been corrupted and for the victims of that corruption. And it continues to oppress and victimize the political Opposition, and the democratic process in this country, by his cowardly ducking of the No Confidence Motion.
Fourthly, has Douglas the Imposter worked with and in the interests of the St. Kitts- Nevis Trades & Labour Union and other kindred organizations? Not at all! To the contrary, he has deliberately kept the Union weak and disrespected its awesome contributions of the past, and its significance as a sister in the Labour Family and as a key player for justice in the work place and in the development of the country.
Indeed, April 28th was commemorated as International Health and Safety Day in The Workplace, and there was a panel discussion on ZIZ TV whose theme was ‘Safety in the Workplace where Chemicals are Used’.
(That date happens also to be the date on which the International Labour Organization(ILO) remembers all workers who lost their lives while on the job. We lost three within the last few weeks, all Government workers).
And not one person sat on that panel to represent the St.Kitts-Nevis Trades and Labour Union or the Teachers’ Union. What kind of discussion on safety in the workplace can you have with no representative of those unions is a panelist?
There ‘s grave concern about safety at the Basseterre High School(BHS), which, besides being the largest institution of secondary education in our nation, (with 800 students), is also a workplace (with over 80 teachers and other support staff).
Imagine a Party, built on the backs, the sweat, the tears, the blood and the lives of workers, occupying government, and turning its back on workers and their organizations the way that Douglas has.
Indeed, to add insult to injury, a meeting was held a couple days ago concerning the BHS matter, and the Teachers’ Union was not invited. Utter disrespect for workers and for workers’ organizations. That’s Denzil the Imposter for you. I’m told that the BHS Principal was so offended that she refused to participate. Good!
Every teacher, every nurse, every civil servant and other public sector worker, indeed, every worker in this land with the slightest sense of dignity and self-respect ought to be enraged and outraged by this callousness and contempt.
And look what Denzil the Imposter did. The BHS issue is as much a health issue as anything else. In fact, more so. Yet who does he appoint to stand in for Nigel Carty, the failed Minister of Education? He sends Marcella Liburd, the failed Minister of Health, a former teacher, and a mother, under whose ministerial eye all of this mess sprouted at the BHS.
First, Douglas sent a mouse to the cheese factory, and when the mouse failed, he sent a rat. Clearly, in figurative terms, Denzil the Imposter has cast his lot with the mice and the rats, and not with the cheese.
How much more contemptuous and obnoxious can one man be towards the workers of this land, indeed, towards the children of this land, and not just any man, but the man who leads a so-called Labour Party! Do you recall him urging people to march with him two or three years ago to help bring down the high electricity rates? And some actually marched with him, you know. How he laughed at them!
Meanwhile, the school health and safety issues are far from being resolved. Because in addition to BHS which is now mired in uncertainty, there are concerns now being expressed about the Beach Allen School which is our nation’s largest primary school.
Denzil the Imposter, the man who once aspired to lead PAM (they must be happy that didn’t happen), has clearly declared war against the children, the teachers, parents, spouses, and the people generally. Health and education, two pillars of development in the philosophy of the real Labour Party, have been sinfully undermined and neglected by Denzil the Imposter.
Fifthly, while he has cooperated with democratic organizations in the region and elsewhere, his main thrust has always been too promote himself. And as he takes one step forward with CARICOM, OECS, OAS, etc., he takes two steps back with some of these fugitives and other characters to whom he has given our diplomatic passports and succor, exposing our people to great risk.
And sixthly, has Denzil the Imposter secured and maintained the complete unity of the people of the State in their struggle for political, social and economic advancement? Unity? Denzil the Imposter? Maybe in 1993 when he thought it suited him, but not in 2014 when it scares him to death!
In fact, he has done the exact opposite, as he sows seeds of divisiveness, strife, distrust and animosity among the people, even within families, and even among his own colleagues, just as his colonial mentors had so successfully and ruthlessly done for centuries.
So it’s clear that Denzil the Imposter has disobeyed the mandate of the Labour Party and its Constitution. It’s clear that he has favoured oppression of workers in this land, over their true liberation and empowerment.
All of which now leaves us to decide whether what he has planned for Labour Day,2014, is worthy of the struggles and successes of workers past, or just another of his efforts to rent a crowd, with 150 majorettes, PEP marchers, two or three bands, a whole heap of rented buses, and all in order to take a photo opportunity to show how many people he can ‘put on the street’, with tens thousands of dollars of his backers’ money being used to entertain and in one way or another to intoxicate people who need to be respected, edified and elevated.
Why doesn’t he use that money to help them pay their electricity bills, to buy food, to pay rent and mortgages, to add on toilets and baths, to pay for prescriptions and treatment, etc?
Do you know one of the biggest disgraces about these Labour Day activities? The visits by Denzil the Imposter to the graves of France, Bradshaw, Southwell, and the other stalwarts past. He has nothing in common with them, and he has no respect for them and their service to, and solidarity with, the elevation of workers in this land. No respect for Labour and what it truly stands for.
So this cannot be a true Labour Day, commemorated in the spirit of the struggles, successes, philosophy, love and respect and dignity of the Labour Movement. Instead, it’s an insult to, and a desecration of, all of those things.
It’ll be just another Carnival staged by Denzil the Imposter to fool and manipulate people. But people are on to him, and they’re playing the game with him.
And he’ll be the one crying out:”May Day, May Day, May Day”.