Basseterre, St. Kitts (SKNIS): As part of his on-going series of listening meetings with employees of various industries, Prime Minister The Honourable Dr. Denzil Douglas met with staff of industrial engineering companies Jaro and Kajola Kristada today, (May 16).
While touring the factory floors of both companies, the Prime Minister reminded workers about the importance of the over 30-year-old industry to the economic development of St Kitts and Nevis.
“The increase in the export of electronic components is making a positive contribution to our economic growth,” said Douglas. The Government sees the manufacturing sector as critically important to the sustainability of our economy. It is because of you, that we have now become the number one exporter to the U.S in the Eastern Caribbean. Together, we are making our country a place where people are proud to live and each one of you has literally had a hand in that success.”
Minister of Labour, Honourable Patrice Nisbett was also present and encouraged the workers to continue working hard to help the federation prosper even more. “There is no development without an effective labour force so the Ministry of Labour is committed to providing you with the support you need to be the best worker you can be. It is important that you have a proper industrial space in which to operate and that you have the right kind of legal infrastructure to protect your interests.”
Minister Nisbett reminded workers that they now have to rise to the increasing demand on our country. ‘We need a new type of worker for this new type of working environment. That’s why we have provided and are emphasizing technical vocational education to produce the most effective kind of worker to meet this new kind of demand.”
During the talk sessions with employees, Prime Minister Douglas addressed a number of issues, including minimum wage increases, to which he said that the Government will do its best to lead the charge.
“While we cannot force your employers to increase your wages, the Government is leading by example and has already raised the minimum wage for public sector employees. I will encourage the Minister of Labour to get the necessary meetings going to ask the private sector to consider this possibility as well.” The Prime Minister also noted that in these talks, longevity and productivity must be key factors in increased salaries.
He ended the talks by encouraging workers to make wise decisions for their children by capitalizing on the many opportunities for economic advancement provided by the Government.
“Encourage your children to take advantage of the many educational and financial opportunities that the Government is offering. Remember that a child returning home with a degree is an asset to your household and can help the family to be successful. Do what is necessary to ensure they go on to the highest level of education they can achieve.”
Now classified as a high income nation, St Kitts-Nevis is the number one exporter in the Eastern Caribbean of manufactured products to the US and achieved 1.9 per cent growth in 2013 whereas the US only managed 1.7 per cent.