Fifty-five years ago, the Jamaican Parliament decided to abolish Empire Day, May 24th. It was decided that in commemoration of the labour upheavals, which took place between May 23 and June 6, 1938, Labour Day would be celebrated on May 23rd in recognition of the working class movement. Empire Day is the birthday of Queen Victoria who has been credited with granting slaves in Jamaica and the rest of the British Empire their freedom.

Since then, the focus of Labour Day has shifted to paying tribute to the struggles of the working class in Jamaica and the importance of the trade union movement. Later, we dedicated May 23rd as a day of work – a day of joining hands and hearts to beautify public areas, repair, paint, build senior citizens homes, basic schools, community centres and churches.

Over the years, we have expanded the concept by putting work into Labour Day through voluntary community activities. Each year, there is a focus on an important theme geared at mobilizing the nation in unity of purpose- working together for the good of the nation. This year, particular attention is being paid to linking healthy outcomes to a clean environment. Labour Day 2016, being observed under the theme “For Health’s Sake… Keep it Clean” underscores the importance of creating and maintaining a clean and safe environment in which our citizens are healthy and able to perform at optimal capacity. The National Labour Day Planning Committee coordinates all the activities for Labour Day and comprises representatives from a cross section of Ministries, Departments and Agencies as well as the private sector and civil society.

This administration firmly believes that a vibrant economy and robust economic growth will depend on sustaining good environmental practices and personal wellness and health including hygiene.

In keeping with the theme, the National Labour Day Planning Committee decided that this year’s National Labour Project will be carried out in the Portmore communities of Gregory Park, Washington Mews and Christian Pen. This decision was made in response to reports by the Ministry of Health of confirmed cases of the Zika virus being detected in Portmore and also in response to high mosquito infestation levels. These mosquitoes are both vectors of disease and a nuisance.

In the true spirit of Labour Day, I urge workers in Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government, Non-Governmental Organizations, Private Sector, social and service clubs, schools, churches and community groups to lend their support to the national project as well as projects happening at the parish and community levels. And as we do so, be reminded of the importance of volunteerism in executing a successful Labour Day 2016.

Let us undertake clean-up exercises across the length and breadth of Jamaica in an effort to destroy mosquito breeding sites in and around our homes and to protect us against vector borne diseases and other environmental ills.

May we also be cognisant of the importance of creating and maintaining a clean and safe environment for this generation and those to come. 

Let us take personal responsibility and clean up our homes, communities and the environs, not just on Labour Day but everyday thereafter, we must work to keep our surroundings healthy, safe and clean.

Olivia Grange, CD, MP

Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport

Read 270 times Last modified on 14 Nov 2017


We place people at the heart of everything we do.

We believe that culture is the great equaliser and transformer that makes ordinary men and women great.

We believe that gender equality is essential in a modern society.

We believe that an entertained person is a happy person and happy persons make happy societies.

We believe that physical activity enhances lives and sport is the medicine that heals and corrects.

Olivia Grange


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