Sun | Aug 19, 2018

The working class needs humane conditions of work - Samuels

Published:Thursday | February 12, 2015 | 12:00 AM

A TIMELY contribution, well-researched and deeply analysed, were words used to describe Dr Orville Taylor's new book Broken Promises, Hearts and Pockets: A Century of Betrayal of the Jamaican Working Class.

Describing the book as a journey that started from he was a little boy until he was employed at the Ministry of Labour, Taylor, in addressing the gathering at his launch held at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, Tuesday evening, said it is imperative that Jamaica develops a culture where persons are treated fairly. The launch was a part of UWI Research Days activities.

"I was employed at a time when the industrial climate was begging for deep analysis and so the thesis of my book is very simple, perhaps simplistic, which is, if you want to build a democracy, you have to build it on the shoulders of the people and, as you build it, you must treat those persons right," the sociologist and university lecturer declared.


"When you have a society that came out of the bowels of slavery, which is still present today in a very vivid and real way, we have to begin to address it. I have seen it and felt it," he asserted.

Noting that the vision of National Hero Marcus Garvey forms a major part of his analysis, having introduced national minimum wage, 40-hour work- week, among other working requirements, he said that, unless issues of corruption are addressed at the highest level, the working class will always be at a disadvantage.

Attorney-at-law Bert Samuels, who was guest speaker at the event, voiced similar sentiments, adding that more must be done to create an inclusive society.

"My entire university and law school education was funded by a mix of students' loan, grants and state assistance. My parents could not afford the first dollar. Today, however we have a free- market approach, which will see a large number of students of the poor being excluded from the opportunity of pursuing a career in law, the social sciences and medicine," he said.

"Are we prepared to deal with the social chaos that we create when a large number of people who have done their part by matriculating for the university and are excluded from professions such as law because it is deemed elitist? The working class is challenged by the need for humane conditions of work and wage, and I am happy that these issues are addressed in the book, which I hope will bring about change," Samuels charged.

Samuels continued: "I must pay tribute to Dr Taylor, whose work is being launched tonight on the former Mona Estate. The ancestors are pleased as one of their descendants has committed to writing the cumulative history of hundreds of years of their battle for economic freedom on their behalf. Dr Taylor has made this worthwhile contribution, right here on this former plantation, transformed into a seat of learning, the Mona Estate. How ironic".