Can the poor man ever win?
THE EDITOR, Sir: Recent pronouncements by businessman Lascelles Chin regarding public holidays are cause for concern. As Mr Chin would be aware, a sovereign nation observes holidays based on events of significance to their history. These days, essentially, are meant for rest, reflection, and, in some cases, celebration.
While we acknowledge Mr Chin's thrust for Jamaica to become more productive to increase exports while decreasing imports, this ought not to be the rationale for a review of the number of public holidays.
Jamaica officially has approximately 10 public holidays per annum. While one may be tempted to compare Jamaican holidays to other countries viewed as more 'productive', we must remember that the number of holidays are not dependent on countries in the region, nor countries more productive, but rather in review of the history of the nation, the roots which helped to shape Jamaica as a country today.
In reality, the majority of these persons in the productive industries are the bottom end of the salary scale. They are the ones who work under untenable conditions to increase output and profits for the minority. It is these persons who look forward to a break from the grind, but it seems like their rest is too much time lost. In the pursuit of the dollar, we are prepared to work the bottom line while the minority reaps the reward. Can the poor man ever win?
If there is ever a discussion surrounding the reduction of public holidays, there must be an increase in vacation and sick days. There must be a thorough review of the relevance of holidays, their impact on productivity and the economy, but, more important, the impact on the worker.
If we fail to place the needs of the worker as a priority, we are continuing the legacy of slavery and servanthood.