Anglican lord bishop slams ‘contract work’

LORD Bishop of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands Howard Gregory has come out in strong opposition to what he refers to as a growing trend across both the private and public sectors in the island concerning the business of employing workers on fixed-term contracts.

Citing varying industries, he said the employment practices of many organisations must be brought under the microscope to evaluate the complete picture as it affects Jamaicans at large.

“Contract workers [are] without job security, and … do not enjoy the benefit of vacation, health insurance, and other worker benefits for which labour unions fought as part of the development of modern Jamaica and an expression of social justice,” he said in his opening charge to the 149th Synod of the Anglican Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, at the Holiday Inn hotel in Montego Bay, St James, from April 23 – 26, 2019.

He chided the Government for “becoming a trendsetter” in these practices and in its dealing with the employment of individuals, including those on the borders of poverty.

Gregory pointed to the growing business process outsourcing (BPO) and hospitality industries in which workers are often not offered full employment with benefits, as some workers are titled self-employed and are not enrolled in pension plans or made to contribute to the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) and National Housing Trust (NHT), suggesting that the result is often anguish in later years.

“Is it to be the lot of these exploited workers to carry the burden for economic prosperity, however we define that,” the bishop questioned.

He said the country has taken a narrow view of what constitutes decent employment and urged a review of the prevailing employment practices that benefit companies but not workers in the long run.