Way paved for flexiwork
Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
After nearly two decades of vigorous and, at times, contentious debate involving Church and State, as well as employers and employees, local legislators yesterday passed the bill paving the way for flexiwork arrangements on Jamaica's industrial landscape.
There was not one dissenting voice in the House of Repre-sentatives as opposition members offered suggestions to strengthen the proposed legislation, which has been described as a compromise between capital and labour.
Urging all sectors of society to support the bill, parliamentarians were at pains to assure religious leaders that worshippers were protected under the Charter of Fundamental Rights contained in Chapter Three of the Constitution.
Opposition Spokesman on Labour Pearnel Charles, his parliamentary colleague Delroy Chuck, and government members Arnaldo Brown and Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams spent much of their presentations singing the praises of the flexiwork arrangements.
They stressed that it was not a threat to people's right to worship on their chosen day and emphasised that the passage of the legislation would not signify that any day of worship would be taken away from employees.
The legislators were also unanimous in their claims that the law intended to be accommodating, instead of bullying, workers, and maintained that if implemented properly, it would pave the way for increased employment and productivity as well as economic growth.
Chuck called for the immediate implementation of flexiwork arrangements in the civil service, particularly the collectorates and the courts. He noted that because of the nature of their professions, police, nurses and doctors were required to exercise some form of flexibility in the execution of their duties.
"This piece of legislation can be a game-changer that will foster prosperity and economic growth," Chuck asserted.
Chuck suggested that the spread of labour under a flexiwork arrangement could decrease traffic pile-ups that have transformed some highways into mass parking lots at peak periods.
Labour Minister Derrick Kellier, who closed the debate which started two weeks ago, however, promised yesterday to intensify the public-education campaign on flexiwork arrangements through government agencies such as the Jamaica Information Service.
The bill is now headed to the Senate for debate.