Labour Day is celebrated around the world in over 180 countries. In Vanuatu, May 1, 2021 was celebrated yesterday, April 30, 2021 in Port Vila and Luganville.
The Vanuatu Association of Public Services Employees (VAPSE) interim President, Basil Leodoro, reported that nearly 100 Union members, families and friends of the Workers Union, gathered on the main street in Luganville to celebrate Labour Day.
The union march and rally included the Lord Mayor of Luganville, Peter Patty, representatives of the Ombudsman’s office, Cooperatives, Churches, Chiefs, Youth and Landowners of Santo.
“We are grateful to the Minister of Internal Affairs, Honorable Alatoi Ishmael Kalsakau, and the Police Commissioner for granting our first ever rally in Luganville,” said the VAPSE interim President.
Workers and union members took to the main street in Luganville led by the Vanuatu Mobile Force and escorted by Vanuatu Police Force.
“We are very excited to celebrate this international holiday that remembers the sacrifices and victories of unions and workers around the world,” said Mr Leodoro.
“We are inspired by our young leaders and our women leaders who have led our organizing committee in Luganville.”
Luganville is the first town that workers unions in Vanuatu gained their first foothold in the early days after Independence. “The Dockside Workers Union in Luganville was one of our first unions,” recalls Mr Ephraim Kalsakau, the current Secretary General of the Vanuatu Council of Trade Unions.
“The Vanuatu Teachers Union, was born out of young New Hebrides teachers after their meeting on Malo Island.”
Santo and Malo hold a historical place in the Unions’ journey and the results of those unions’ leaders can still be felt today.
“We are proud to be part of this occasion and celebration,” says Union organizer, Valua Gremson Wols.
“May 1 has always reminded us of the role that workers play in the economy of a country.”
Mr Valua Wols says that the Union office based in Luganville has not rested since its launch in January this year.
“We have received case after case of workers disputes in Luganville and we are working very closely with the Labour Department and employers to settle workers’ claims and bring justice to all,” Wols said.
VAPSE was joined in the celebrations by the executive of the Vanuatu National Workers Union (VNWU) and Vanuatu Teachers Union (VTU).
“We want to see public servants and private sector workers united under the Union banner in Luganville,” says VCTU SG, Mr Kalsakau.
“It is the birthplace of unions and we are glad to see that Union spirit reignited in our northern town.”
Workers gathered at La Plage for the official remarks which included a rally and invitation for members of the public to ask question.
“Our theme is ‘Interact, Celebrate and Educate’,” says lead organizer, Ms Linda Kalman.
“And we are glad that there is an opportunity to interact and educate the public so that more workers can understand their rights and celebrate this day. Their day.”
Labour Day celebrations were held simultaneously in Port Vila and Luganville.
“Allowing workers to take to the streets to hold rallies, to speak out, to fight for justice and have a voice is the key to a democratic country,” concluded VCTU SG, Mr Kalsaku.