Monday 10 August, 2020

Jordan contends employees can work without fear of discrimination now

(FILE) Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations, Colin Jordan.

(FILE) Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations, Colin Jordan.

Discrimination in the workplace will now be aptly addressed due to the Employment (Prevention of Discrimination) Bill, 2020 . 

Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations, Colin Jordan presented the bill in the House of Assembly on Tuesday, outlining that the Bill will address discrimination against race, sex or gender, creed, political opinion, trade union affiliation, marital status, health and more. 

“The matter of discrimination had to be spoken to in its entirety. A person’s ability to earn so they can eat was such a fundamental right it was determined that the legislation to address discrimination should be located in the ministry with responsibility for labour."

Jordan contended that his ministry sought to pursue social justice for its electorate and all residents of Barbados. He charged that Government has a commitment to every Barbadian to "build a just, stable and sustainable society". 

"The bill says that a person discriminates against another person, where the person directly or indirectly makes a distinction, creates an exclusion or shows a preference, the intent or effect of which is to subject the other person to a disadvantage or to a restriction or to some other detriment."

"We should do for the people what we would want done for ourselves. That there would be in place in this country of ours, in a 21st century Barbados a piece of legislation that would prevent me from being discriminated against, you, the people in St Peter, St Michael Central and all across Barbados from being discriminated against in the area of employment; the employment that produces the income that is used for all of us to sustain ourselves."

The Minister of Labour contested that discrimination should be "rooted out" of society and was an act that impended on the economic dependence and ability of an individual to sustain themselves and their families. He indicated that discrimination policy was brought to the forefront in 2004 when persons living with HIV/AIDS were being discriminated in the workplace. 

Jordan who is also a Seventh Day Adventist said he knew of instances where persons were discriminated against because of their religious orientation. 

"There have been Seventh Day Adventists who have been denied employment opportunities because they will not work on Sabbath. I have grown up understanding that as an adult representing the people of St Peter in this honorable chamber I would never be a party to discrimination of anybody because I believe in the Golden Rule. 

I treat people as I want them to treat me. I don’t want to be discriminated against . . . I  have been allowed while as a member of a party in a minority to freely practice my religion. I have not been discriminated against," emphasized the Minister of Labour. 

He also sternly criticised employers that treated employees differently because they were affiliated with the trade union movement. 

"I need to say again to some employers that we are not going to tolerate you getting rid of people at work because you found out that they became members of a trade union. We are not going to tolerate it." 

"This is a piece of legislation for the people of Barbados, the people who have risen up against discrimination. The people who have said to us they do not accept that in a 2020 Barbados there would be discrimination and not at the point that it affects their ability to live," Jordan further added. 

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