Wed | Jan 23, 2019

Implement flexi worshipping

Published:Sunday | November 2, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Government Senator Navel Clarke (left) with the National Workers' Union President Vincent Morrison (centre), and Cabinet Member Derrick Kellier at a church service in 2012. - File

Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter

ARGUING THAT the Church has been an obstacle in the implementation of flexiwork arrangements, a government senator and trade unionist has said religious bodies should consider tailoring their worship sessions to meet changing times.

Navel Clarke, while lamenting that it has taken 20 years and six joint select committee meetings to reach the stage of getting the Flexi Work Bill before Parliament, said there was a "lack of appreciation and the understanding of the world of work by those persons who are the concerned church leaders".

"I would want to ask my friends, who are the concerned church leaders, to consider adopting flexible worshipping arrangements," added Clarke.

The government senator said he meant no disrespect to the church leaders even as he argued that flexiworking hours should have been introduced years ago.

He recalled that a special subcommittee was set up in 2002 to explain to church leaders the importance of flexi-work arrangements.

"I want the Jamaica Council of Churches to consider this, because I tell you why. You can pass sometimes at various areas and you see a tent pitched, packed with people worshipping," he continued.

"The word worship means praise, give thanks to the Lord. There are countries of the world that certain hours of the day they stop for worship. I want to suggest that the future is beckoning us to adjust ourselves because years to come, maybe 50 years from now, workers are going to be left wanting.


"In Japan, robots are now built to take working business. How are we going to manage? The world is moving ahead. It is either that or the church leaders have to transform some of these big edifices that they have built to worship into working arrangements so that they can employ their workers," Clarke said.

The Flexi Work Bill, which has now been passed in both houses of Parliament, following passage in the Senate last Friday, specifies that the work week should consist of 40 hours and that the entitlement to overtime (where applicable) arises after the worker has completed 40 hours of work.

It also increases the maximum number of hours in a work day from eight or 10 hours, as the case may be currently, to a maximum of 12 hours; and makes all seven days of the week possible working days.

Mark Golding, the justice minister, said that the Constitution protects persons' freedom of religion and persons who feel discriminated against under a Flexi Work arrangement are entitled to constitutional redress.