Sun | Apr 2, 2023

Letter of the Day | Contract system exploits workers, should be discontinued

Published:Tuesday | February 7, 2023 | 12:40 AM


I reference the recently delivered verdict which declared that security offices are not contractors but workers, thereby qualifying for certain benefits guaranteed under statute laws. Should this ruling then not set precedent across all sectors? Why should it be confined to that sector only, when thousands of Jamaicans find themselves in a similar situation?

For even organs of government themselves, over multiple years, have been caught up in this orgy of exploitation, where they have joined with the private sector to employ so- called contractors on two-year contracts for 20 years. What this arrangement produces are elderly Jamaicans marked out for poverty and distress. The rights of the workers have been eroded over many years; but in the last couple of years they have been plucked fully from our hands.

Now these corporations make billions every year at the expense of the worker. They have formulated a recipe for the demise of our beloved elderly. The elderly have been placed in a situation where they have no pension, no savings, and do not qualify for NIS benefits since they were never contributors. It means therefore that the State, and hence the taxpayer, will become the burden bearer for this sharply rising cohort, while the social safety net is already stretched, and even breaking. The contract system deprives the worker of vacation leave, sick leave, maternity leave, overtime payments, a proper pension system, and the ability to pay NHT contributions, thereby depriving the worker of affordable housing. It is a brutal assault on our people and must be stopped. This unfortunate development is primarily the fault of this wretched contract system. It should be pulled out by its roots, lest it destroys our society.

For if this is what capitalism creates, then it is a cruel, soulless, unthinking, unfeeling beast watered by the tears of the poor. Will these revered companies be moved by a sense of social justice to do away with the contract system, or must they be pressured by parliamentary machinery that cannot be swayed by political contributions?