ST JOHN’S, Antigua – The British MP for Hackney, Dianne Abbot, made a call for the Antigua Trades and Labour Union (AT&LU) to remember its legacy to confront the challenges of tomorrow.
Abbot, who is of West Indian descent, was the featured speaker at the union’s 75th Anniversary Banquet on Friday at the Grand Royal Antiguan Hotel.
In her address, she reminded the audience that it was the trade union that introduced political education to the masses when the colonial masters didn’t want them to get an education.
It was also the AT&LU, she said, that fought for the liberation of the masses and to raise their standards of living.
The MP made it clear that this was the legacy of the of the trade union movement in the Caribbean and that the current generation of trade unionists must defend and continue this legacy.
In her speech, Abbot stressed that trade unions across the region must resolve to develop the courage needed continue the work of the stalwarts who came before them.
The British member of parliament said that although the challenges that confront the trade union movement today are different from those faced by its forerunners, they possessed – in their history, values and heritage – the key to overcoming these challenges.
In her view, the major challenge was the need to restructure the AT&LU in the 21st century to make it relevant, especially to a younger generation.
In this regard, Abbot suggested there needs to be a regional effort to rebrand and re-energise the trade union movement in the Caribbean.
In closing, the MP reminded the union members to keep, in the foreground of their minds, the inheritance of its past while preparing for its future.