Labour Day Speech Acting Government Commissioner, Alida Francis St. Eustatius, May 1st, 2021
On this Labor Day, we pause to celebrate as well as emphasize the rights of all laborers.
This past year has proven how important it is to focus on these rights. We have experienced first-hand how vital it is to recognize the efforts of our farmers, fishermen, health professionals, tradesmen, administrators, teachers and all other aspects of the economic sector.
While the global pandemic has challenged our way of being, it has also afforded us a chance to explore new horizons. We’ve been given a glimpse into how life could be without a fully operational economic sector. This experience has renewed our faith in as well as our commitment to uphold and protect the rights of all our laborers, both now as well as in the foreseeable future. A specific example of said commitment is the ongoing collaboration between the Labour Department, the Island Government and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour (SZW) aimed at finding effective ways to adapt to our new reality.
Our main aim is to combat the effect of Covid-19 on the job market of Statia. To achieve this, three emergency financial packages were offered through the Ministry of SZW; these packages served as an aide to businesses ensuring that the impact of Covid-19 would be minimal. Specifically, it allowed businesses and social organizations to remain operational, as well as guaranteed employees at least 80% of their income.
This act is yet another example of the tenacity of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Especially when we take into consideration the various parts of the world where such aid and collaboration is not possible due to a lack of resources. Our kingdom is and has always been aware of the vital role human resources play in sustaining our economic sector.
On our island, work was able to continue uninterrupted on major projects such as the STUCO waterlines, improvement at the Water Plant, the laying of new roads, the expansion of the airport as well as the construction of a new resort. Yet more proof that we are a resilient people. This past year our own labor force, comprised of our own local talent and know how, supported by essential workers from abroad, has rolled its’ sleeves, stepped up and helped build their island. As in the days of old, and as is our custom Statians banded together to work for Statia first. This has been and will continue to be our heritage.
The COVID crisis has also tested the resolve of the public and private sector as well as the community at large. We have done well so far. But our work is far from done. The next step is to work together towards a careful and gradual reopening of the island where each resident assumes their personal responsibility to keep our island and its people safe. With unity of purpose, motivating and inspiring this effort, Statia will not only continue to be, but rather will flourish by the sheer will, resilience and perseverance of us, its people. For this is what unites us all – despite our sections, race, faith, occupation, and beliefs. We all love and are devoted to the Golden Rock
Together we will continue to invest, by intensifying our employment services, in order to further guarantee a sustainable level of professionalism as well as to mitigate the impact of the current crisis on the labour market, this approach will in the long term give all Statians a fighting chance at work, income and self-development.
We have accomplished so much while staring at the abyss; it is imperative that we remain committed to achieving more. Businesses have begun to embrace agile business practices and are pursuing new initiatives according to the environment and customer experience.
The mindset of the Statian economic sector has changed and is more reliant on itself than ever before. This mindset fosters a new path for our future endeavors, while simultaneously opening new doors to commerce and enterprise. The Labour Department, the Island Government and the Ministry of SZW are also transforming internally to cater to the new way of work in the new normal.
If this pandemic has taught us anything, it is the added value of flexibility and collective collaboration. We therefore encourage all our citizens to remain vigilant, healthy and to adhere to the rules and regulations laid down by the authorities.
United, together in our love and dedication to Statia is our only way forward.
Happy Labour Day!.
Attached is a random selection of pictures of workers in Statia.