Wed | Dec 1, 2021

Letter of the Day | Workers negatively impacted by COVID-19

Published:Tuesday | November 23, 2021 | 12:05 AM

THE EDITOR, Madam:

A study on the impact of COVID-19 on Jamaican workers yielded some insightful results. A sample of ,1057 workers from various private- and public-sector companies participated in a cross-sectional survey conducted by the Hugh Shearer Labour Studies Institute and the Ministry of Labour and Social Security. The findings indicated that most participants (90.3 per cent) were sufficiently educated about the pandemic. However, males (92.1 per cent) were more educated about the pandemic, compared to females (89.6 per cent).

Participants also indicated that their employers were using various strategies to respond to the pandemic. Based on the responses, participants believed that employers were using flexible working hours (45.8 per cent), layoffs (19.7 per cent), redundancies (5.2 per cent), wage cuts (nine per cent), reducing working hours (10.1 per cent), and freezing benefits and commissions (2.8 per cent) to respond to the myriad of issues caused by the pandemic.

CHALLENGES FACED BY WORKERS

It was found that most participants (54.6 per cent) believed that COVID-19 had negatively affected their earnings. The earnings of participants within the 18-24 years (62.9 per cent) and 35-44 years (50.3 per cent) were mostly affected. Most persons (77.8 per cent) had indicated that apart from their earnings, their social interaction with friends had been seriously affected by the pandemic.

Empirical findings also showed that most respondents (84.3 per cent) believed that the COVID-19-related challenges expressed by their employers were genuine. The sample was disaggregated by gender to better understand the views of men and women as it pertains to whether or not they believed that the challenges expressed by their employers were genuine. Responses indicated that most males (86.4 per cent) and females (83.4 per cent) believed that the challenges experienced by their employers were genuine.

SUPPORT FOR WORKERS DURING COVID-19

Many of the participants interviewed strongly believed that enough support mechanisms did not exist to protect workers during COVID-19. The data showed that most males (45.5 per cent) and females (44.9 per cent) strongly disagreed when asked if enough support mechanisms exist to protect workers during COVID-19. A disaggregation by age gave more detailed results. Most persons from the various age groups strongly disagreed that their employers were ready for COVID-19. The percentages for the various age groups were 18-24 years (48.6 per cent), 25-34 years (47.6 per cent), 35-44 years (52.9 per cent), 45-54 years (32.8 per cent), and 55 years and older (32.8 per cent). The data showed that 37.4 per cent of the participants from the private sector strongly agreed that enough support mechanisms exist, compared to 21.4 per cent from the public sector.

A sizeable number of the sample (48 per cent) responded negatively when asked if they were coping well with the pandemic. The findings showed that most males (58.8 per cent) indicated that they were coping very well with the pandemic in comparison to females (48.6 per cent). Most respondents did not believe that their employers were sufficiently prepared for COVID-19. The data showed that more than half of the sample did not agree that their employers were sufficiently prepared for the pandemic. A noticeable number of participants from the private sector (23.2 per cent) strongly disagreed that their company was prepared for COVID-19.

The second phase for the study will commence in January 2022. If you are interested in participating, please send a message to the email below.

LAUREN MARSH

Acting Head, Hugh Shearer

Labour Studies Institute

University of the West Indies,

Open Campus

lauren.marsh@dec.uwi.edu