Dear fellow citizens, Thursday ,19 June 2014, is an auspicious occasion marking the observance of the birth and recognition of our country's labour movement, which led to the formation of trade unions mandated to protect and defend the rights and principles of workers.
We observe this important day at a time when our fledging democracy is assailed by numerous challenges, some of which have a negative impact on our society's collective consciousness. Many of us have concerns about the relationship between workers and government.
It is to the credit of the People's Partnership Government that I can proudly attest to the satisfactory settlement of at least 75 collective labour agreements during our tenure. Some of those issues had been outstanding and problematic for years prior to our election to office.
Today, as we celebrate the rights of workers, we can be grateful that our economy, as our nation's experts testify, is growing in sustainability with foreign investment at its highest level in years. Our economy is expected to maintain a positive momentum to the end of the calendar year, 2014, with further growth forecast for 2015.
My government, with the collaboration of our workers, has increased economic diversification in non-energy sectors and growth has been driven to a large extent by aggressive fiscal stimulus programmes. Trinidad and Tobago enjoys a privileged international credit standing, confirmed by major global authorities who base their findings on our relatively high income levels, our large and diversified energy sector, and the expansion of economic activity in the non-energy sector.
I am delighted also to confirm that the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund has accumulated a balance in excess of 20% of Trinidad and Tobago's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). We have reason to be satisfied that, as a people, we have arrived at that level position in our unfolding history. There are many challenges ahead but I am confident that, if we remain united, committed, and dedicated to our future development and prosperity for all, we will achieve our goals in the near future.
Our projected plans indicate that approximately 30,000 thousand new jobs are expected to be created over the next seven years if we continue on the smart track to success. Our government is pro-labour and holds itself responsible for advancing the rights of all our workers. This is a shared responsibility and when workers and their representatives acknowledge their role in this regard we aspire and achieve together. Our government's goal as well as labour's goal is the same: prosperity for all!
As we celebrate this special holiday, on behalf of my government, I should like to reaffirm my commitment to protecting the rights of all workers, as we work together to improve the work conditions and enhance the benefits of our most precious resource, labour; the true capital of our country. We will continue to govern fairly and manage the resources of our country responsibly and equitably in the interests of our entire population.
The greater good will be uppermost in our minds and take precedence over political expediency and partisanship. We count on labour to be equal partners always in our ongoing efforts to do the right thing at the right time. Let us work together in a spirit of mutual respect to build a stronger and better nation.
Let us, by using effective means of communication, express our concerns, resolve our differences, and realise our fullest potential in an environment of mutual respect. I have full confidence that united we can stand strong in our diversity but, divided, we will fail in our efforts to promote the national cause: the best for everyone all the time.
Let us truly celebrate Labour Day as we reflect on our shared values and ethical convictions as a visionary people developing our true potential and cherishing the positive attributes of our diverse and talented citizens. Thank you all for your genuine contributions to the overall growth of our beloved Republic, Trinidad and Tobago.
Happy Labour Day to all my fellow-citizens and May God Bless Our Nation!