Stop exploiting Jamaica's workers, Anglican Bishop urges

A leading member of the Jamaican clergy is adding his voice to those calling for a re-evaluation of the widespread use of short term employment contracts in various sectors of the Jamaican economy.

The Right Reverend Howard Gregory, Anglican Bishop of Jamaica and The Cayman Islands, “several of the most lucrative industries at the moment need to be brought under the microscope for their employment practices…”

Delivering his sermon on Tuesday at the opening session of the 2019 Synod of the Church at the St. James Parich Church in Montego Bay, Bishop Gregory pointed to the Business Processing Outsourcing (BPO) and tourism sectors as two in which the best interests of workers are not being promoted or protected.

Regarding the PBOs, he bemoaned the fact that workers in this sector are contract workers “without job security, and who do not enjoy the benefit of vacation, health insurance, worker benefits for which labour unions fought as part of the development of modern Jamaica and an expression of social justice.”

Likewise, in the hospitality industry, “the shining star of the economy,” he said there are similar employment strategies being employed. 

“The government is becoming a trend setter in these practices, as well, in dealing with the employment of persons who are already living in or on the borders of poverty,” he added. 

“In a society in which only a small proportion of workers are on any pension plan, and where many persons designated self-employed are not contributing to the National Insurance Scheme or the National Housing Trust, we better begin to think long term, and not just how playing with statistics can make the situation look good today,” he warned.

The government must seek to protect these “exploited” rather than expect them to “carry the burden for economic prosperity,” he urged.

Resorting to the language of scriptures, he asserted that “Lazarus still sits by the side of the road outside the gate, and he hears and he sees the prosperity of Jamaica’s Dives passing by daily, self-absorbed and expounding the language of prosperity, rehearsing the statistics, but unaware of his presence.”

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