Sat | Aug 18, 2018

Why won't we stand up?

Published:Saturday | August 23, 2014 | 12:00 AM


I've noticed that, in Jamaica, there's typically one main news story that gets heavy rotation among newsrooms for a lifespan of two weeks. It fades in interest and another incident occurs which takes centre stage.

Now that the furore over Mario Deane's murder has calmed, the main item of conversation around water coolers is the impending increase in bus fares by the Jamaica Urban Transit Company.

As expected, Transport Minister Dr Omar Davies played the inflation card to justify this increase. Why is it that no one has really called him out on this? It's fair enough that inflation is a reality and, in order to cope with it, you have to offer your goods and services at costs that allow you to foot the bill for the cost of production of said goods or logistics involved in said services. Then what about employees in various jobs across the country? Don't they, too, provide a service? Why is it fair for producers to place an increase on products, citing inflation, yet if a group of workers decide they, too, need an increase in salaries to match the rate of inflation, they're threatened with unemployment? Isn't that double standard of the highest order?

If you watch the nightly newscasts, you'll hear that 'poor people ah suffer', but the complaints never actually go any deeper. Surely if people start thinking like these large corporations and government entities, the collective will become so loud that the demand for increases in salaries to match the cost of living in Jamaica must be met at some point. Sadly though, Jamaicans don't seem to want to stand together. Perhaps it's a case of us being too timid at the thought of punishment which may arise from a public show of dissent or maybe just sheer laziness to get up and take control.

We've now allowed Andrew Holness and the Jamaica Labour Party to plan a protest on our behalf about the increase. Why are people not seeing through this? Surely, if the shoe were on the other foot, it's the People's National Party which would be threatening protests, much like it did back in 2009 amid talk of an increase in taxes on fuel and basic food items by then Minister of Finance Audley Shaw. Why are we allowing a thinly veiled attempt at politicking to speak for us when those planning the protests are guilty of showing the same disregard for Jamaicans only half a decade ago?


St Andrew