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LETTER OF THE DAY - Back to slavery with flexiwork

Published:Thursday | September 25, 2014 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir: In a Gleaner article published on September 24, 'Way paved for flexiwork', it is stated that, under the new system of flexible work arrangements, the rights of worshippers will be protected by chapter three of the Fundamental Rights in the Constitution. This is a false conception which is being used to obscure the real implications of flexiwork arrangements. There is no protection by this provision because, if this right is abused, a case would have to be brought in the Constitutional Court, which would mean significant expense, as well as extensive time before trial, which the average worker would not be able to afford.

RESTRICTION OF WORSHIP

The actual implication of flexiwork, which the leaders of the Church have consistently stated for the past 13 years, is that it will seriously restrict worship and will be highly detrimental to the spiritual, moral, family, and cultural life of the nation. In fact, it will be the first time since emancipation from slavery that a Jamaican worker will be compelled to work on a Sunday.

During slavery, a slave had to work almost every day. But one day - Sunday - was given to slaves to sell produce from their own little fields. Under the amelioration directions by Britain, brought to the Jamaican Assembly by James Stephen in 1831, the selling of produce on Sundays was to cease and another day was to be granted to the slaves to sell produce. This was the first right given to slaves. On Sundays, religious instruction was to be made available to all slaves. This was how our forefathers learned to read and write - at 'Sunday schools'. Under flexiwork arrangements, this right has now been taken away, as Sundays and Saturdays become normal working days. Who has taken away this right? The descendants of the slaves! We are back to slavery in 2014.

Rev Earl Thames