JALGO calls for greater push towards decent work agenda as COVID-19 crisis continues

On the occasion of the celebration of World Day for Decent Work on October 7, the Jamaica Association of Local Government Officers (JALGO) calls on the Government of Jamaica to ensure that the recovery from COVID-19 does not sacrifice the decent work agenda.

The decent work agenda as outlined by the International Labour Organization (ILO) involves ensuring that workers are provided with adequate opportunities to work in environments that provide for fair income while also providing adequate levels of job security. Importantly it should also allow for persons to freely express their concerns and to participate in the decisions that affect their lives. Should this be realized, it would form a critical cog in the wheel of sustainable development.  It is therefore important, especially during this time of crisis, that the government does not lose sight of working towards this reality.   

The COVID-19 crisis has brought added challenges for workers such as extended work times, fatigue, psychosocial issues, but despite all of this the workers, especially public sector workers, have risen to the occasion, even at times putting themselves in harm’s way, as they deliver critically needed services.  As a result, many have come to realize the critical importance of public services and public sector workers, to the point where they have dubbed them as “heroes”.

We believe that the pandemic has underlined the importance of investment in the public sector, as it is very apparent that those countries that made investment in their public infrastructure and their Human Resources have fared much better than those that have not. 

However what is to be noted is that some of these issues have existed long before the onset of the pandemic. Issues such as inadequate compensation, zero hour contracts and others have permeated the fabric of the public sector and have served to exacerbate the challenges that workers now face during this time of crisis. 

Jamaica for its part, has committed to implementing the decent work agenda to ensure equity, security and dignity for all in the workplace. However, for this to be a reality, it will require that the government develops and implements policies that can help to transform the public sector into a workspace where the four pillars of the decent work agenda i. e. promoting jobs and enterprise, guaranteeing rights at work, extending social protection and promoting social dialogue are emphasized and actualized.

The COVID-19 pandemic will not be the last existential threat that the world encounters and therefore it is important that in order to face such threats head on, adequate investment not only in competitive wages but in good working conditions must be made.

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