Labour Government moves to secure additional benefits for industrial site workers

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, MAY 8TH 2013 (CUOPM) – With government employees already enjoying a higher level of protection since the introduction of a gratuity plan and an improved medical insurance, St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas says there is need to secure additional benefits for workers on the industrial sites.

In his opening statement during his weekly radio call-in programme “Ask the Prime Minister” on Tuesday, the St. Kitts and Nevis leader again stressed his government’s intention to ensure that workers on the industrial sites would be eligible for a gratuity upon leaving their places of employment.

“This change will enable those who are interested to begin new lives with heretofore unavailable funds in hand, and we are in the final stages of the necessary negotiations,” said Dr. Douglas.

He told the Nation that his Government believes that those who pay into Social Security every month should be eligible for assistance, not only in times of illness, and not only once they have retired, but indeed in those cases where they, due to no fault of theirs, become unemployed.

“My Cabinet Colleagues and I have been sharing with the public the fact that Social Security benefits will therefore, very soon, be made available to those who, through no fault of their own, become unemployed, this too, I believe, heightened the public’s desire to stand up and be counted yesterday – even though in this case it would be more accurate to say “march and be counted,” said Dr. Douglas.

He emphasized that Government employees in St. Kitts and Nevis are now enjoying a level of protection that is not found everywhere.

“And it liberates them – at last – from the financial stresses, pressures, and anxieties that serious illness often brings. This is the kind of accomplishment that stays in the minds of rational people, Listeners, and makes them decide, indeed, to brave the thunder, brave the lightning, and brave the pouring rain in order to stand and be counted,” said Dr. Douglas, who further noted that while wealthy, powerful nations are slashing essential services for their people and investing those funds in military or other expenditures, the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis “has done everything in build on what it has already done for Government employees, by ensuring that every man, woman, and child in St. Kitts and Nevis will now be similarly guaranteed free and complete health care, provided and paid for by the Government that they elected to protect them and advance their interests.”

“This, too, is the type of knowledge and understanding that leads to the type of enthusiastic outpouring that was so evident in the streets of Basseterre yesterday,” said Dr. Douglas, who pointed out that the role of Government is the promotion and implementation of policies and programmes that will lead to the social and economic advancement of the people it was elected to serve.

The governing St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party administration has maintained a rock-solid commitment to calm and sobriety and remains committed to securing what is best for the people of the federation and developing a responsible plan of action that would best protect the nation’s interests.

“In all cases, we have remained true to those pledges,” said St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas during his weekly radio call in programme “Ask the Prime Minister” on Tuesday.

He pointed out that as one listens to the parties and groupings that have been holding meetings throughout the country in recent times, each making their own appeal to the people, his St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party has been holding meetings as well.

“I would like to make a point of thanking the public here, as well, for their steadfast and enthusiastic support at these meetings. Throughout it all, however, with all of the different meetings that were being held by all of the different groups and interests, what was being made increasingly clear to me was that what our country needed most was a clear, positive, and wholesome manifestation of our essential oneness, our over-arching singularity of purpose, and our cohesiveness as a people. There needed to be, I felt, some massive and almost cathartic expression of the faith and optimism, the determination and the tenacity, the clarity and, yes, the confidence – the full confidence – that undergirds us all, as a people,” Dr. Douglas told listeners.

He noted that as he marched amongst the sea of people moving forward through the streets of Basseterre on Monday, in an atmosphere of strong and peaceful positivity, surrounded by the young and the old, the black and the white, the rich and the poor, the local and the foreign-born, united by this clear spirit of joyous and resolute positivity, “I felt a deep sense of gratitude for what we represent as a people, and for all that we, together, have been able to accomplish.”

“Because, let there be no doubt, the massive march that took place in the streets of Basseterre yesterday did not take place simply because it was Labour Day. It did not take place simply out of habit. It took place out of a keen awareness of what we – as teachers and mechanics, farmers and engineers, masons and lawyers, teachers and artists and everyone else – working together, have contributed to build this country,” said the Prime Minister, who pointed out that the march took place out of a keen awareness of the tremendous social and economic advances that have been put in place by his Government for the protection, the up-liftment, and the everlasting dignity of all.

“It grew out of emotion one feels when one considers, for example, that in this tiny nation, a nation that it is almost impossible to find on a world map, we have undertaken the demanding analysis, come up with the detailed projections, and found a way to make the financial and other arrangements necessary to ensure that every single Government employee – whether they are at the most junior of levels or the most senior – is now entitled to complete, Government-provided medical care, free of cost. That is a tremendous accomplishment,” said Prime Minister Douglas.

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