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NWU Addresses

FEATURE ADDRESS - Father Albert Smith 2020 Annual Conference of Delegates

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Father Albert Smith – Assistant Parish Priest, Our Lady of the Assumption Church, Soufriere and former NWU Shop Steward at NRDF

National Workers Union 2020 Annual Conference of Delegates

Theme: Deep reflection on our consolidation efforts towards the survival and sustainability of the National Workers Union.

As you celebrate your Annual Conference of Delegates, I bring you greetings and best wishes for every success as you forge ahead to be the best union, second to none, placing first always the welfare of your members.
God is the source of our very existence, therefore all we do and say should always be rooted in him.
As you celebrate your Annual Conference of Delegates let me draw your attention to the words of God through the prophet Micah, 6: 8, and I quote, “ The LORD has told us what is good. What he requires of us is this: to do what is just, to show constant love, and to live in humble fellowship with our God.”
The Church in her mission has taken these words to heart and has been in the fore front of workers rights and protection in the industrial world of Europe and beyond.
In the 19th century, Pope Leo XIII recognized that economic changes introduced new relationships between those who had wealth and those who did not.

“Pope Leo XIII recognized the natural right of people to associate with each other, whether these were religious associations or work guilds; he endorsed the importance of collective bargaining to promote the common good, and recognized the unequal contractual relationship between the worker and the employer.”
The labor market meant that workers were negotiating not only with an employer, but competing against all the other workers seeking the same job. Leo XIII said these pressures to accept employment at ever-lowering wages could lead workers “to agree to employment terms that did not supply the basic needs for a dignified family life.”
The labor-focused traditions of Catholic Social Teaching have continued especially through the work of Popes Pius XI, John XXIII, John Paul II, Benedict XVI and our present Pope Francis.
The Second Vatican Council’s Apostolic Constitution Gaudium et Spes, (The Church in the Modern World) held in 1962 – 1965, names the right to found unions for working people as “among the basic rights of the human person.”
These unions “should be able truly to represent them and to contribute to the organizing of economic life in the right way.” These rights include the freedom to take part in union activity “without risk of reprisal.”
John Paul II stated unequivocally that labor unions are “indispensable” for workplace justice, and collective bargaining is just another name for workplace democracy. Unions are seen by John Paul II as the democratic institutions that form a bulwark against the abuse of workers at the hands of either the employer or the state.
Today as we reflect on your theme, there is a need to act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with your creator as you continue your consolidation efforts towards the survival and sustainability of the National Workers Union.
In all things, every success, lies heavily on the loyalty of your members. Whatever your success is, depends on the strong confidence that has been placed on the shoulders of the Management of the NWU.
Today you celebrate, not only your Annual Conference of Delegates, you are celebrating that event under your own roof, an achievement that demands a toast; Three cheers for the NWU. You have done well.
Your achievement and survival today must have been a collaborative effort. It is a time to reflect on your legacies and how you as a union have done things in the past and to think ahead of how you can represent yourselves and your members better as you forge ahead, embracing the future with all its uncertainties.
Delegates, you may not always be happy with your union and their representation; however, the National Workers Union can only effectively represent you after you have kept to your end of your contract.
And what does this mean? To return to your employer a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay; not taking extra time for lunch and tea breaks; not staying home when there is nothing wrong just because you know that you can without any repercussions,
Many of you lay claim to fame by acknowledging that you have a relationship with Jesus Christ. Some of you play religious music at your desk or on your phones all day. That relationship with Jesus must be carried into your work place and into the relationships that you have with fellow workers.
As you continue your deep reflection on your consolidation efforts towards the survival and sustainability of the National Workers Union, I want you to also reflect on your roles and responsibilities as workers. Your pre-occupation should not only be the pay cheque, but also giving of yourself for the development of your homeland, the Helen of the West, Saint Lucia.
I invite you also to reflect on Romans 8:28 – and I quote - “and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.
Let me wish you every success for your 2020 Annual Conference of Delegates.

Protecting And Defending The Economic, Social, Educational, Cultural And Political Interest Of Workers
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