By anguillian May 8, 2017 12:45 Updated



Fellow Anguillians and residents of Anguilla,

It is my pleasure to address you in my capacity as Minister of Labour on yet another celebration of Labour Day. International Worker’s Day, commonly called Labour Day is a day to celebrate workers but it is also a time when we reflect on the issues that affect them. There is no doubt that the global environment presents a myriad of issues that impact workers both internationally and right here in Anguilla. Some of these factors include economic contraction, technological advancement and what is sometimes termed the gig economy.

As regards economic contraction, countries globally have been in an economic tailspin spanning several years. The pace of recovery from this spiral differs significantly from country to country. Many organisations have had to undergo reorganization in order to stay afloat which has resulted in people being out of work. Unfortunately even in those countries which are in various stages of economic recovery, economic growth is not resulting in the equivalent rate of job creation. Further, the quality of jobs created is also affected and persons entering the work force now generally earn less than those a few years prior. In this equation, on a global scale, young people are the group most acutely affected.

Technological advancement is another factor that has changed the work environment globally. Technology has resulted in job creation, new markets and products. It has also led to job loss as organisations have automated processes that reduced the need for staff; but more significantly it has led to transformation of the way in which business is done, enabling people to work smarter and increasing productivity and profits. To remain relevant, not only must today’s workers keep pace with technology, but ought to be prepared to work from their laptops or tablet on a purely online platform where their customers, coworkers and employers are located in various countries across the world. What is called the digitization of the economy presents its own challenges related to ensuring that workers’ rights are respected and protected in these online work places.

Another developing feature in the global landscape is the “gig” economy. Traditionally, workers have kept on the same career path for their entire working life, however today they tend to change jobs, careers and industries more frequently. Additionally, there is an increasing global trend for people to engage in several jobs on the same day. This is particularly so among young people who now enter the labour force being paid less. They frequently engage in temporary or part time work until they find a job that matches their aspirations and have to create their own jobs in order to maintain themselves.

What does all of this mean for us here in Anguilla? For our Government, it means that charting our path to economic recovery will not necessarily be easy. Some companies may have to make cutbacks in order to survive. However, as the economy grows we have to focus not only on creating jobs, but ensuring that we create quality jobs for the people of Anguilla. We also have to continue to be vigilant in ensuring that Anguillians have the first opportunity to fill available positions.

It also means that Anguillians have to retool. I encourage all Anguillians who are still lagging in the use of technology ( not for social interaction, but as an essential work tool), to upgrade your skills so that you can be an asset to your workplace or be in a position to take advantage of employment opportunities that present themselves, or to create your own employment. Additionally, don’t be afraid to upgrade your skills so that you can transfer to a new trade or career. Given global trends, this may be necessary for you to thrive in this changing work environment. Visit the Anguilla Community College or another institution of your choice and register for a course that meets your needs. We must position ourselves to deal with the changing nature of the global economy.

Lastly, it means we must continue to support our youth in their efforts to find decent work. The GET SET entrepreneurial programme, Youth Exposure Programme and the Job Link up programme at the Department of Youth and Culture are doing just this. Additionally, our Government is working towards creating a business and investment environment that better supports entrepreneurship and innovation. We will need the continued support of the business community to make these programmes sustainable and so that more young people can benefit.
I wish to assure you that the Ministry and Department of Labour remain committed to ensuring that all residents of Anguilla can find decent work, that your working environment is safe and that you are treated with fairness and respect. We encourage you to visit the Labour Department if you have any questions or concerns about anything related to your work. We are here to help, but we can only do so if we are aware of the issues. Help us, to help you.

Happy Labour Day! Thank you for listening.

(Published without editing by The Anguillian newspaper.)

By anguillian May 8, 2017 12:45 Updated


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