This national holiday is celebrated on May 23rd. If Labour Day falls on a Saturday or Sunday, it will be observed on the following Monday. Labour Day in Jamaica commemorates a labour rebellion on this day in 1938 that contributed to Jamaican independence.
Why is Labour Day important
History of Jamaican Labour Day
As part of the British Empire, Jamaica had historically had a public holiday on May 24th to mark Queen Victoria’s birthday. This holiday was known as Empire Day. Empire Day was renamed Commonwealth Day in the 1950s, but is still celebrated as Victoria Day in most regions of Canada.
In 1962, Jamaica gained its independence from the United Kingdom. Celebrating Empire Day was no longer seen as relevant to the fledgling country and in 1961, Jamaican Chief Minister Norman Washington Manley proposed replacing Empire Day with a new holiday called Labour Day.
This new holiday was to be a commemoration of a labour rebellion on May 23rd 1938. The rebellion was led by Alexander Bustamante who gained prominence during the rebellion, becoming a noted trade union leader and eventually becoming Jamaica’s first prime minister following independence.
In 1972, Jamaican Prime Minister Michael Manley started the movement to make Labour Day a day when Jamaicans would get involved in local community projects. Today, on Labour Day, groups, individuals, and communities all over Jamaica will dedicate their time and labour to improve public areas, do repairs, paint or build homes, schools, and churches.
Paragraph 4 of the Schedule to the Holidays (Public General) Act provides that where the 23rd of May falls on a Saturday or Sunday, then the following Monday is observed as a public holiday.
How to observe International Nurses Day
The three main objectives of Labour Day are:
- enhancing the dignity of labour by improving the environment
- inspiring the spirit of community development, and
- encouraging the principle of solidarity; Jamaicans working, building, and sharing together
As we mark this, day, we urge countries to ensure:
- the occupational safety and health of nurses and all health workers, including notably, unhindered access to personal protective equipment so they can safely provide care and reduce infections in health care settings.
- nurses and all health care workers have access to mental health support, timely pay, sick leave, and insurance; as well as access to the most up-to-date knowledge and guidance required to respond to all health needs, including outbreaks.
- nurses are given the financial support and other resources required to help respond to and control COVID-19 and future outbreaks
In order to celebrate today effectively, here is a list of resources you can use to make the day special – or to plan ahead
- Labour Day Puzzle – ice breaker
- Jamaica Information Service
- Official Holiday Website