The Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU) continues to mourn the death of its former Island Supervisor and Senior Vice President, Mr. Dwight Nelson, who died peacefully at home on the morning of December 24, 2018.
President of the BITU, Senator Kavan Gayle, recalled that Mr. Nelson not only served the country as a trade unionist, but also as a Cabinet Minister and, in his last years as Deputy Chairman of the Industrial Disputes Tribunal, the government’s main industrial relations arbitration body.
Senator Gayle also noted that as the then President of the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions (JCTU), Mr. Nelson was the main trade union leader, to be accredited with the historic May, 2006 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Government and Jamaica’s trade union movement, under which government workers agreed to accept a wage restraint policy as a successful contribution to domestic economic development.
“Dwight Nelson was a visionary who saw the need for restraint to foster economic recovery, after the severe impact of global financial crisis of that period, and subjected his political allegiance to the then Opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) to the national good by not only encouraging his fellow trade unionists to support the MOU, but by playing a very constructive role in its success and setting a very significant precedent in terms of how Jamaican trade unions should participate in the economy,” Senator Gayle stated.
He noted Mr. Nelson’s willingness to serve his country in the political arena, by taking on the job as Minister of National Security during one of the most turbulent period in the country’s history.
He also pointed to Mr. Nelson as a rare Jamaican trade unionist, as he not only served the trade union movement for decades, but also served in the private sector as industrial relations manager for the Matalon Group of Companies before serving in the Public Service as a JLP-appointed Senator, Minister Without Portfolio in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service and eventually as Minister of National Security.
Senator Gayle, a protégé of Mr. Nelson who joined the BITU in the late 1960s and rose to become Island Supervisor and eventually Senior Vice President, acknowledged him as his mentor.
“He taught me most of the things I knew as a young trade unionist as well as elementary principles against which I operate. He was the consummate labour relations expert, especially in terms of collective bargaining, and was highly respected by his colleagues across the Caribbean. In fact, since his passing, we have been receiving numerous letters of condolence from Caribbean trade unionists familiar with him,” Senator Gayle said.
President Gayle went on to share that “At the bargaining table, Dwight was respected by employers and would always leave onlookers transfixed and mesmerized with his articulate skills. He was an excellent negotiator and one who rose above mediocrity in the pursuit of defending workers; he was mentor and vanguard of the working class in all facets of his life”
“On behalf of the Managing Executive Committee, the officers, staff and members of the BITU, we extend our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Angella, and his children and other relatives and assure them that we share their loss and their grief,” Senator Gayle said.
Senator Gayle expressed his weighed sadness saying “Walk good Dwight Nelson. Gone but will not be forgotten”.