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Sociologist says contract work a threat to productivity

Published:Saturday | November 29, 2014 | 12:00 AM

LABOUR EXPERT Dr Orville Taylor has said that contract work is a threat to the decent work agenda.

According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), "Decent work is based on the understanding that work is a source of personal dignity, family stability, peace in the community, democracies that deliver for people, and economic growth that expands opportunities for productive jobs and enterprise development".

"There is something insidious happening ... that little demon called contract work, which is a danger to decent work and productivity," said Taylor, who was delivering the main address during the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions' 20th anniversary lecture at the Webster Memorial Church Hall, St Andrew on Thursday. The event was held under the theme 'The Role of Trade Union in Furthering the Decent Work Agenda'.

Taylor said a contract worker does not have protection under the Labour Relations and Industrial Disputes Act, the Employment Termination and Redundancy Payment Act, or any other legislation that gives protection and rights to workers such as maternity and vacation leave.


"We have taken a lot of things for granted ... we have a lot more work to do," Taylor told the gathering which comprised primarily trade unionists. He noted that Jamaicans have the freedom to do a lot of things. "We have a wonderful thing called democracy. It is time for us to step forward on the agenda of decent work," said Taylor, who is also a senior lecturer in the Department of Sociology, Psychology and Social Work at the University of the West Indies, Mona.

He said the divisiveness in the trade union movement needs to be fixed. "If you cannot unite as a union, how can you fight for the workers?" Taylor questioned.

He told the gathering that the ILO noted 25 years ago that the equal pay legislation was inadequate.

"And after decades of having a female labour minister and now a prime minister, this has not been addressed, and new issues such as sexual harassment have not been addressed," Taylor lamented. 'We need to forcefully put it on the agenda."

Simpson Miller told Parliament in April that the Cabinet had approved the issuing of drafting instructions for the preparation of sexual harassment legislation.