There is now legislation in place to govern discrimination in the workplace.
Today, the Employment (Prevention of Discrimination) Bill, 2020 was laid, debated and passed in the House of Assembly.
Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations Colin Jordan led the debate setting out the grounds for discrimination around race, origin, political opinion, trade union affiliation, creed, sex/gender, marital status, domestic partnership status and health among others.
Jordan said that there must not be discrimination of any type which could potentially stop someone from earning a living.
“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.”
The minister explained: “We would do for the people what we would want done for ourselves. We are putting in place, in this country of ours, in a 21st century Barbados a piece of legislation that would prevent me from being discriminated against, that would prevent you from being discriminated against, that would prevent the people of St Peter and St Michael Central and all across Barbados from being discriminated against in the area of employment. Employment that is used to produce an income, an income that is used for all of us to sustain ourselves.”
The Labour Minister said there is a synergy between this legislation and the Employment Rights Act.
“The bill says that a person discriminates against another person, where the person makes a distinction, creates an exclusion or shows a preference, intent or effect of which is to subject the other person to a disadvantage or to a restriction or to some other detriment,” Jordan said.
The St Peter MP, who is a practising Seventh Day Adventist, said he knows of others who were not employed because of their religion.
“I am totally opposed to discrimination of employment on any grounds. 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 growing up representing the people of St Peter in this honourable Chamber I will never be part of discrimination against anyone. I can’t do it because I believe in the Golden Rule. I treat to people as I want them to treat to me. 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.”
As it relates to workers being slighted or fired because of affiliation with a trade union, Jordan restated his ministry’s position.
“I need to say again to the country, I need to say again to some employers that we are not going to tolerate you getting rid of people at work because you find out that they become members of a trade union.
“We are continuing some work in our ministry in conjunction with the trade union movement to make sure that we strengthen our trade union laws in this country. At the end of the day we are not to be discriminated against because I don’t like the organisation that you want to join. Those days are long past,” the Labour Minister said.
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