May Day Message from DAWU: A healthy worker in spirit, soul & body

Leah Shillingford General Secretary (Ag) Dominica Amalgamated Workers Union

Brothers and Sisters,

It is a pleasure and an honor to greet you on this May Day 2021. Wherever you are and whatever you may be doing, I trust that my message finds you in good health and in good spirits.

As we celebrate May Day 2021, still under a pandemic cloud, and with much reservation and restrictions, observing “social distancing” and “health protocol’, our freedom of movement is limited, however, TODAY is still a very IMPORTANT DAY to be celebrated. We nevertheless celebrate at a distance.

May Day, as it stands, is a very special day. It is a day when all of humanity remember that the day is set aside for “WORKERS/LABOURERS”. Some countries celebrate on May 1, and others on the first Monday in May. What is common however, is that globally, Workers/Labourers are recognized and appreciated. This year has been quite unique in recent history as frontline workers, from medical professionals to service personnel and those in the food industry, have been at higher risk of exposure to COVID-19 while doing their jobs to provide much needed services to the rest of the population. We thank you for your service.

Today, in this Pandemic time, the DAWU would like to focus on the “Health of The Worker”, since the DAWU is interested in workers as a whole person, meaning spirit, soul and body.

A few years ago, the DAWU chose as its theme “Labour into God’s Rest”. This was because the Union saw that many workers were working and not allowing themselves time for rest and for recreational purposes. By extension, there was a  “separation of love of oneself”. By this, we mean that many workers do not make sufficient time for themselves. Workers are on the go from morning till dusk, and on arrival at home, family life continues until evening. This happens day after day after day.

In 2020, the pandemic Covid 19’s first impact on the lives of the worker saw workers laboring into God’s Rest. It restricted everyone to “stay at home”, thus allowing families to socialize and spend more quality time together. Some who worked from home had to balance work with home duties while others were asked to take some time off. In either case, we continue to observe the time spent balancing work with home duties and also relaxing and doing recreational activities in order to protect their minds and their hearts.

An article published on DNO, a few years ago stated that, out of 400 Government workers examined, eighty (80%) percent of the workers were found to be suffering with a NCD. To date, the Union recognizes that many more workers are suffering from “negative stress” than ever before.

The DAWU is appealing to ALL workers that they be very mindful of who they are as a person. Firstly, you are a spirit living in a body and have a soul. Therefore, every worker should take care of their body as well as their soul and their spirit. Many of the “negative stress” is of the soul, that is the mind, emotion and free will. It is also very important that every worker/labourer understands that he/she is in a relationship with parents, children, other loved ones, employees and employers etc. Therefore, external matters do arise from all angles and of course, these matters must be dealt with. They may be positive or negative, as the case may be. For some persons the negative is overwhelming. Workers arrive at work drained, and added to that there are problems on the job. This is not easy for anyone, and thereby the “negative stress” which causes the worker to become ill. Some workers on leaving work, may be a few minutes from arriving home, when reality hits and thoughts of what is expected once they arrive inside the house. In that moment, a headache may come on, followed by the rise of blood pressure.

It is the constant thoughts that race through the mind, which affect the heart and by extension, high blood pressure, anxiety, strokes, heart attacks etc. Therefore, Workers need to pay special attention to the “negative stress” that brings on the Non Communicable Disease. Workers need to be reminded that it is this SOUL (Mind) which affects the Heart, causing the body to break down. Therefore, Workers need to guard their thoughts/thinking.

At the start of the pandemic, many workers feared losing their jobs. They were very fearful of their future, and became depressed, stressed, and full of anxiety. The employers, did not adequately explain to their Workers, how their jobs would be impacted. There was an abundance of uncertainty. Some were told to take leave without pay, while many were made redundant, and as a result of this “negative stress” many employees become ill.

The DAWU would like the employers to understand that if a worker become ill as a result of negative stress on the job, the “production line” is compromised and the loss is also borne by the employer. There is no winner. Employers need healthy workers/labourers on the job site at all times. Therefore, it is very important that employers treat their employees as they would like to be treated. Love your neighbor as yourself. At the same time, workers, please understand that God is our source and He has already made provision for all His children. There is no need to bring illness on to yourself.

The DAWU would like to take the opportunity once again, to greet every worker/labourer in Dominica and not only union members but every non union member, a very happy MAY DAY, 2021, as you remain safe and healthy in the Lord.

I thank you, and enjoy the rest of the day.