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Opinion & Analysis

No complacency on May Day

A message from GSD leader Daniel Feetham


On Sunday May 1we commemorate International Workers' Day and the historic struggle of working people throughout the world. In Gibraltar that struggle has been hard fought through the generations to get to where we are.  Often the advancement of our rights as a people have gone hand in hand with that struggle.  The struggle for parity, for example, was not just about equal pay with our UK counterparts. It was also part of our struggle for emancipation as a people.  Today our workers enjoy conditions that our forefathers could only dream of. May Day is a day we gratefully celebrate their sacrifices.

That is not to mean that we must be complacent.  There are still people without jobs; people are still discriminated in the workplace; the use of cheap Labour in the public service through recruitment agencies is still a concern; bullying is still not being investigated in the way it should, particularly where it would be damaging to the Government. The Opposition will continue to address these issues as we have done over the last four years.

This year we face one of the biggest threats to jobs that we have faced in generations in the potential exit from the EU.  Despite our struggles over the generations to get to where we are, we are blessed to live on this Rock of ours. We should not risk that Gibraltarian way of life and everything our forefathers have achieved by taking a leap into the dark and voting to exit the EU at the referendum. There is too much at stake for our workers, our families and our community as a whole.

This year as I celebrate May Day on the 1st of the month as I have always done, I remind myself that it became a public holiday after the General Strike in 1972 and after the Transport and General Workers Union campaigned for it to become a public holiday. Even though this year it falls on a Sunday, it is right that it should be celebrated on its actual day with a public holiday on that day. It should also be celebrated by all the Unions and political parties together and without discrimination. I hope this year UNITE the Union invite the GGCA to their May Day Rally. It is also a matter of regret to me that since an invitation to speak at the 2013 May Day Rally was unilaterally withdrawn by UNITE, we have not been invited to it ourselves.  Unity at times like this is important. It has been, after all, unity amongst workers of past generations that has achieved to so much for the present ones.  We should celebrate together; united and not divided.

On behalf of the GSD I wish you and your families a happy May Day.

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