Union conference speakers say workers deserve to enjoy the wealth and security generated by the tourism industry

The wealth that tourism generates must be shared with the workers who deliver the experience, said Senator David Massiah, as an International Transport Workers’ Federation (Tourism Services) Conference wrapped up, here, on Tuesday, April 18.

Massiah is the Tourism Services section chairman and the general secretary of the Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union, the federation’s local affiliate.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Senator Massiah said that a sustainable approach that empowers workers will be critical for the survival of the industry.

“We are building a strong strategy around people, power and planet to win a sustainable industry with good jobs for tourism workers,” he told his audience.

Meanwhile, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour  Joan Carrot underscored the importance of building strong relationships between workers, the unions and the government.

Carrot says that trade unions have a unique capacity for shaping and moulding a tourism industry, but that can be achieved only by working in tandem with the respective government entities.

On the other hand, ITF General Secretary Stephen Cotton spoke of a number of challenges that persist in the tourism sector.

According to Cotton, “The tourism economy is fragmented, full of insecure work where many of the jobs are informal and don’t enjoy the social protections – like pensions and sick pay – that they should.”

He therefore called on tourism stakeholders to recognise the contributions of women, young workers and migrant workers, who, he says, comprise the majority of tourism workers.

The conference brought together almost 80 delegates who represent trade-union organisations involved in the transportation and tourism sectors.   The event was aimed at exchanging experiences, identifying priorities, and building strategies.