May 1, also referred to as Labour Day, was the fifteenth public and bank holiday for 2017 in Belize. It is a day to celebrate labour, employment and economic activity. In a message from the Vision Inspired by the People (VIP), they saluted all Belizean Workers and stressed on the importance of the trade union movement of Belize, stating that it is an essential and equal partner in all our efforts to attain a more equitable and just Belizean society. It is on that note that the VIP is now calling on the Barrow administration to, quote, “behave in a manner that shows greater respect and recognition of this fundamental labor principle.” End of quote. The VIP went on to congratulate the NTUCB for the stand they took last year on good governance. Meanwhile, the NTUCB sent out their Labour Day message last week. Their message focused a lot on statistics but also noted, quote, “National Development is spawned by economic development! There can be no economic development in the absence of labour. The NTUCB recognizes this fact and therefore pays homage to the invaluable contribution of ALL workers, in every sector of the Belizean economy; as it is through their efforts that the wheels of Belize’s economy continue to turn. Their efforts MUST continue to remain in the spotlight and their contributions can never be under-illuminated.” End of quote. The lengthy three page message goes on to read, quote, “This year’s Labour Day NTUCB theme is an especially timely and apt choice, given the realities confronting our beloved Jewel, at this juncture and into the foreseeable future. Our own Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB) in its most up-to-date, just released Consumer Price Index (CPI) for March 2017 documented a 2.3% rise over the same period in 2016. A key factor in the upward CPI trend is fuel costs, which impact all other sectors of the economy. This translates into reduced purchasing power of Belizean Workers’ earnings. In other words, Belizeans are leaving the shops with lighter bags, having spent more money to purchase an even shorter shopping list. These SIB findings, reflect and confirm the UNDP Human Development Report for 2016; which shows that while Belize’s ranking has not slipped in relation to that of our neighboring countries, neither has Belize’s ranking advanced. This will undoubtedly be spun, by pundits, as Belize holding its own; while some of our competitors in the region are facing considerably more challenging times. Granted; however, this is of little consolation to Belizean workers who have striven to be as productive as possible over the past year and have seen scant returns for their output, in terms of better pay and other benefits. Like elsewhere in our globalized world, the rich keeps getting richer, the poor poorer and the middle class is shrinking.” End of quote. The NTUCB noted that one of the matters outstanding for their unions is the Occupational and Safety Health Bill which they are seeking to get passed into law after its re-introduction into the National Assembly.