Fri | Nov 16, 2018

Gregory warns of danger of eroding workers' rights

Published:Thursday | April 5, 2018 | 12:12 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer
Gregory

The gradual erosion of the rights of workers in Jamaica has not gone unnoticed by the Church as Anglican Bishop Howard Gregory placed the issue in the spotlight at a synod this week.

Gregory told his congregation to remind the Government of the 1938 uprisings that effectively changed the way the masses of ordinary Jamaican workers were treated and the impact any such erosion could have on the society.

"The breakdown of morality in the society does not reside in the lower echelons of society, but it sits at the top of our society where we can find philosophical and economic reasons to justify such actions," Gregory told the 148th Anglican Synod in Montego Bay. "So our most profitable institutions can cease to employ persons who can enjoy basic terms and securities that have characterised civilised society.

"So our employees must be placed on renewable contracts with no health insurance, no pension benefits, no leave facility, and no job security, while profits soar and management takes home excessive salaries and shareholders enjoy bumper dividends?" questioned Gregory.

He noted that the signs of regression have been evident over recent times and urged the Government and the private sector not to forget history. According to Gregory, the Government appears to be on the same path as some private entities regarding the terms of employment, leaving questions to be asked about the protection of citizens from such violations.

The Anglican bishop pointed to the prevailing philosophy among many in the world of business and commerce and some ideologues that government must keep out of the marketplace and allow those who operate in this sphere to self-regulate.

"We have seen this in the position taken regarding the issues of fees that banks are charging their customers, and in the employment practices that I have cited," he said. "We also call on the trade unions to be more vigilant against any erosion of the rights of workers taking place in this country," the clergyman added.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com