BASSETERRE, St.Kitts (Friday 17th May 2019) – This week, the body of the late President of the St.Kitts-Nevis Trades & Labour Union (SKNT &LU) Joseph Emanuel O’Flaherty, 48, was laid to rest next to his father Joseph Fidel O’Flaherty at the Springfield Cemetery in Basseterre.
On Wednesday 15th May, scores of mourners gathered at the St. George’s Anglican Church located on Cayon Street for the thanksgiving service.
O’Flaherty died on Labour Day (Monday 6thMay) hours before the annual Labour Day march organised by the union in partnership with its sister orgnaisation the Opposition St.Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) Dr. Denzil Douglas
Speaking to the congregation at the church, the SKNLP Leader Dr. Denzil Douglas commented: “My very first knowledge and acquaintance of comrade Joseph O’Flaherty came from the very many fond references to him by his dear father, my good friend, and [also his] aunt…sadly both of whom had predeceased him.”
“…his father always spoke of his son and when really I met him for the first time I understood why [his] dad seemed to have had so much fond references to him,” he added.
Dr. Douglas went on to say: “I would think that he was strikingly similar in features to his dad; quite charming as a young man, and I’m sure very affectionate and charming to the ladies as well because you see there was something about the Fidels that I believe gave them a special glance from the others.”
Reflecting on the day that the top union official passed away, he shared: “It was a very sad moment for me and all persons in the movement because traditionally for the last six years on that very morning, he would have stood on the platform at the Pasty Allers Play Field and address thousands of workers after they have participated in the traditional Labour Day March.”
“His untimely passing is very unfortunate and has left a gaping hole in the leadership of the St.Kitts-Nevis Trades & Labour Union; one that would be very difficult to fill. Over the last six years, comrade Joseph O’Flaherty…representing the workers across the Federation,” he also stated.
Ron Collins Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour addressed the gathering in the absence of Minister of Labour Vance Amory who was on an overseas business trip.
He (Collins) gave remarks on behalf of his ministry, the Department of Labour, The National Tripartite Committee and the Minimum Wage Advisory Committee
“… [We] are saddened by his passing. We will certainly feel his absence in our work and our journey going forward and we will miss his contributions for a long time to come.
According to him: “Union president O’Flaherty worked tirelessly to promote the cause of his union and the welfare of workers in general. He served as president of the union at a time when the role and relevance of unions are being questioned and when a terrain of struggle has shifted and workers are faced with a new set of difficult challenges.”
Collins went on to say: “Here with us today lies the remains of a man who represented the best values of his union; a man who dedicated himself to the service of workers in our nation. His work was one of selflessness and sacrifice for the common good of working men and women; some of whom he had never met and will never get the opportunity to meet. A relatively soft-speaking but firm man, completely devoted to the principles of unionism. We were indeed really appreciative of his willingness to work with the Ministry and the Department of Labour when we in 2017 reshaped the work relationship with the Trades & Labour Union.”
At the 73rd annual conference of the St.Kitts-Nevis Trades & Labour Union held on Sunday 28th October 2012 under theme ‘Tackling The Challenges of the Future’, O’Flaherty emerged as the newly-elected president, succeeding Clifford Thomas who served in that capacity for a period of seven years and did not seek reelection thereafter