Grant: Preserve workers' rights or else - JCSA president warns of labour unrest
President of the Jamaica Civil Service Association (JCSA) O'Neil Grant has warned of major trouble on the industrial scene if more is not done to protect the rights of workers.
In his president's address to the 99th annual general meeting of the JCSA last week, a militant Grant charged that "until the rights of workers are preserved, there will be restiveness in the labour movement. This restiveness will come to boil if you don't address the issues that I've spoken about just now. A revolution is coming in the Jamaican labour movement.
"This is a fight for equal rights and justice, and it will be led by the Jamaica Civil Service Association. This is not one where we will use brawn as we did in 1938. It will be one that uses intellectual muscle that resides in the Jamaican public sector."
Grant described conditions under which public sector workers now operate as similar to those endured by the enslaved Israelites after Pharaoh demanded that they continue to manufacture the same volume of bricks without the provision of straw.
Grant demanded that the modern-day Pharaoh and his task master set his people free from oppression.
He cited the practice of contract employment, which deprives the worker of basic rights and benefits as illegal and unfair and said that it was the accumulated effect of these, and other unfair practices, that have triggered a metamorphosis within the organisation.
"To deal with these sectoral and cross-cutting issues, the JCSA itself has to change. We have to balance our industrial relations work with our advocacy and lobbying efforts, this in the context of a public sector staffed with professionals who are underpaid and under-resourced. They work with antiquated systems and policies and procedures and try to make the best of what is a poor situation," said Grant.
The JCSA president also called for a review of the law governing the work of the recently created Integrity Commission, which he said is lopsided, unfair, and biased against public officers, who it targets.
"I call on the Integrity Commission ... to quickly make submissions for the amendment of the Integrity Act to impose higher sanctions, just as harsh as sanctions to the private individual when they induce and entice a public officer to act corruptly. Despite of all of this, I beg, I implore, I beseech public officers to continue to be professional," said Grant.