Minister Marcella Liburd: On the 80th Anniversary of the Labour Party, the best interests of the people are being truly served

Minister of Health, Community and Social Development, Hon. Marcella Liburd delivers the feature address at Sunday’s Requiem Mass at the St. Paul’s Parish Church

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, MAY 30TH 2012 (CUOPM) – The governing St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party, which is this year celebrating its 80th Anniversary is as much a spirit and a belief system as it is a political party.

“And by that I mean that Labour, the political party grew out of, and is based on, the belief and understanding that no human being or group of human beings is better than any other. Because of this, Labour has always believed and understood that all human beings are deserving of the same chances and opportunities despite race, class, religion, ideology, gender or sexual preference,” said Parliamentary Representative for Central Basseterre and Minister of Heath and Community and Social Development, the Hon. Marcella Liburd.

Delivering the feature address at a Requiem Mass on Sunday to honour fallen Labour Movement stalwarts at the St. Paul’s Parish Church, the former national netballer, coach and lawyer turned politician said Labour has always believed in the innate worth of every human being from its inception in 1932.

She noted that about 100 years after the abolition of slavery, amid deplorable and oppressive working conditions, poor health services, poor housing, child labour, no opportunities for education and at a time when it was still illegal to form trade unions, the Workers League was born.

“Thomas Manchester, J. Matthew Sebastian and Edgar Challenger among others stepped boldly forward in 1932 to challenge the oppressive working conditions and the poor quality of life meted out to the working-class at the time,” Liburd told the congregation which included Governor General, His Excellency Dr. Sir Cuthbert Sebastian, son of J. Matthew Sebastian; Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas, cousin of First National Hero, First Premier and Father of Independence, The Rt. Excellent Sir Robert L. Bradshaw; Cabinet ministers, representatives of the diplomatic and consular corps; Ms. Lorenzo Southwell and Miss Clytie Southwell, daughters of National Hero and First Chief Minister, the Rt. Excellent Sir C. A. Paul Southwell and Ms. Prudence France and Mr. Keethon France, daughter and son of former minister, trade unionist extraordinaire and National Hero, the Rt. Excellent Sir Joseph N. France.

Lorenzo (left) and Clytie Southwell, daughters of National Hero, the Rt. Excellent Sir C. A. Paul Southwell at Sunday’s Requiem Mass at the St. Paul’s Parish Church

She pointed out that the general discontent among workers coupled with the oppression and ill-treatment of workers and their families led to several mini incidents of rebellion which quickly mushroomed into the Buckleys Riots of 1935 and strikes throughout the various plantations led to marches through the streets by sugar workers who were joined in solidarity by stevedores, porters, farmers, seamstresses, road workers, store clerks and generally all those citizens who felt it was timely to register their frustration with the administration of the day.

“By 1940 it was no longer illegal to form unions and the St. Kitts-Nevis Trades and Labour Union was registered on 15th May 1940 to champion the cause of workers for a better quality of life. Men like Bradshaw, France and Southwell and later Moore, Bryant and Payne joined Manchester, Sebastian and Challenger as leaders of the Movement,” said Minister Liburd, a former Speaker and Senator of the National Assembly.

She pointed out that the Workers League formed in 1932 became the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party in 1957.

“This year 2012, we proudly celebrate 80 years since the formation of this Great Party which in partnership with the St. Kitts-Nevis Trades and Labour Union has transformed the lives of our people and the landscape of our twin island Federation,” she said, adding:

“Our leaders today, Douglas, Condor, Harris, Martin as well as Herbert and Cedric Liburd are standing on the shoulders of Manchester, Sebastian, Challenger, Bradshaw, Southwell, France, Glasford, Williams, Bryant, Moore, Payne and all who carried the banner of Labour over these 80 years. They benefitted from a rich legacy and as servants of the people and trustees of our estate have added enormous value to the stock so that we the beneficiaries can justifiably say on this 80th anniversary that our best interests are being truly served.”

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