Basseterre, St. Kitts, September 18, 2015 (SKNIS): Friday’s (September 18) ceremony, which signaled the start of the disbursement of EC $16 million to former sugar workers, was hailed as a “red-letter day” by the Senior Minister and Minister of Labour, the Honourable Vance Amory.
“It symbolizes the close of a very important part of the history of St. Kitts and Nevis as it brings the curtains down on the sugar industry,” he said. “Those of you who worked and toiled in that industry, in the fields, in the factory, wherever you worked, you made your contribution to make the economy of St. Kitts and Nevis resilient, even when the price of sugar was falling.
“As Minister with responsibility for Labour, I am happy that you who worked so tirelessly and sacrificially in the sugar industry are now going to receive your fair and just deserts today,” Senior Minister Amory added, while encouraging the 1,861 persons selected for compensation to hold the cheques high when they receive it.
The number of persons who fit the criteria is almost twice those who benefitted from the original payout in 2005. However, Amory admitted that it was almost impossible to truly compensate the former sugar workers for their sacrifices over the decades but said the payout that was made possible through a grant from the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, represents an effort by the local government to “make good on its promise to ensure that you have something with which you can start a new chapter in your lives.”
The Senior Minister mentioned Saturday’s Independence Day anniversary and sent this strong message: “The Independence of St. Kitts and Nevis would not have been possible without the effort and the sacrifice of you the sugar workers to keep the economy stable at a time when Independence was declared.”
Amory also highlighted the role of the Department of Labour and the Social Security Board in the selection of candidates based on the criteria and assured the recipients that they were receiving a “fair share.”