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Move National Heroes Day


WILFRID MCD. ESTWICK

Move National Heroes Day

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IT WOULD BE INTERESTING to know what percentage of the workforce is paid by the day, that is, they are only paid for days actually worked and are not required to work on public holidays.

Most years National Heroes Day and May Day (Labour Day) fall in the same week. As a result, persons such as domestic servants and gardeners in private service, who usually work a five-day week, only work three days.

In circumstances where they are the sole breadwinner in the family, this results in immense hardship that week as expenses are not likely to fall during the week. They still have to eat and pay rent, utilities and so on.

Apart from the hardship on the daily paid workers, disjointed work weeks such as this impact negatively on productivity.

I am not advocating the removal of either of these public holidays from the calendar but rather the moving of one of these holidays to another date. But which one?

May 1 has been recognised as Labour Day in Barbados from time immemorial. In the late 1970s a former Prime Minister tried to adjust Labour Day from May 1 to the first Monday in May and was met with staunch opposition from the then head of the Barbados Workers’ Union. In light of its historical significance to workers, to again seek to move the day would be foolhardy.

April 28 (National Heroes Day) – what is the significance of this date to National Heroes in general? None. It is merely the birthday of one of the ten National Heroes. If we are honest, we would admit that date was chosen because of the prior existence of the January 21 public holiday.

It is ironic that no less than three of the National Heroes were associated with workers and it is their day that is now the cause of hardship to some of the lowest paid workers.

My humble suggestion to remedy the situation would be that in the future National Heroes Day be celebrated on the first Monday in October. Why? That date has no affiliation to any of the heroes and the month of October does not have a public holiday. Most workers could use a break from work, having not had a public holiday since the month of August.

To avoid any partisan political outburst, if I were the PM, I would take the “high road” and discontinue Errol Barrow Day, as the celebration of Mr Barrow’s legacy can be encapsulated within National Heroes Day. 

I also have a solution for the Emancipation Day and Kadooment Day situation, but I am contented to leave that for another time.    

– WILFRID MCD. ESTWICK

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