Jamaica News: Late former Government Minister, Dwight Nelson, has been hailed for positively impacting the lives of countless Jamaicans through his staunch advocacy for the nation’s workers.
This is according to former Prime Minister, Mr. Bruce Golding, in whose Cabinet Mr. Nelson served.
“I recall the strident advocacy he made in Cabinet that led to the amendment of the Labour Relations and Industrial Disputes Act to allow non-unionised workers access to the arbitration procedures of the Industrial Disputes Tribunal,” he said.
Mr. Golding was speaking at the official funeral service for Mr. Nelson, held at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Kingston, on Thursday (January 31).
“His mind, his instinct and his passion were umbilically tied to the workers’ cause – representing them was his calling,” he added.
However, Mr. Golding said his most seminal achievement was arguably “the pivotal role that he played in that historic Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which was signed between the Government and the public sector union in 2004,” which, he noted, was done at a time when negotiations were traditionally hostile.
“I recall as well the critical role he played in developing the social partnership agreement that was eventually signed in 2013,” Mr. Golding added.
“His family has lost a patriarch…the St. George’s and Alpha communities have lost a builder on whom they could always rely; the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU) have lost a stalwart; the trade union movement has lost a leader and a champion; and Jamaica has lost a dedicated and committed son who made a difference and made life better for so many of us,” he said.
Mr. Golding, who has known Mr. Nelson for over 60 years, since entering St. George’s College together, revealed another side of this “very private person,” fondly recalling humorous stories of how he got the nickname ‘Tweety Bird’, and how as a teenager he stood out, not only because he was a bright student, but because of his wiry frame.
“We jived him mercilessly…but Dwight took it in good spirit,” he said, while recalling Mr. Nelson’s dry sense of humour.
Meanwhile, in his tribute to his father, Kevin Nelson described Mr. Nelson as a “mammoth of a man,” who “cared for people in general and wanted to see right done for all.”
“His commitment to the labour movement in Jamaica is striking evidence of this,” he said, adding that his father was humble and kind and treated persons with respect.
In attendance at the service were Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness; and Opposition Leader, Dr. Peter Phillips, who read the first and second scripture readings, respectively. Members of the Senate and the Lower House, the Cabinet and members of the Diplomatic Corps were also present.
Mr. Nelson, a trade unionist, who served as a Senator, Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service and Minister of National Security, died on December 24, 2018, at the age of 72.
He began his career as a teacher before joining the trade union movement as a teenager, and served in various capacities at the BITU, up to the position of Senior-Vice President. He also served as Vice-Chair of the Industrial Disputes Tribunal (IDT).
In 2005, Mr. Nelson was conferred with Jamaica’s fifth highest honour, the Order of Distinction, Commander Class, for his contribution to the trade union movement.
Source: JIS News