Minister chastises employers who fire workers for going overseas to represent country
By Shamar Blunt
Employers are being reprimanded for firing or otherwise punishing workers who take time off to represent Barbados in sports. In fact, they were on Tuesday put on notice that legislation is coming to deal with that “nefarious” practice.
Minister of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment Charles Griffith said in the House of Assembly on Tuesday that his ministry has long been made aware that some businesses seek to prevent their employees from engaging in sporting activities on behalf of their country.
Tabling a resolution on the Green Paper on the National Sports Policy, he said it was a worrying situation that needed to be brought to an end.
“The Sports Development Act which we are expecting to come after this, that will add some teeth not only to the situation of having sports in schools but we have this really nefarious thing happening on the island where our sportspersons are going off island to represent country, only to come back to this country and, in some cases, fired.
“It is wrong because if we have persons who are going overseas to represent this country, I think the basic decency should be one of pride of having an athlete working in your organisation at [a] national level, instead of making life absolutely miserable for those persons,” Griffith said.
He added that it was not fair for national athletes to have to worry about not having a job if they choose to represent their country.
“How can we expect our athletes – whether they are doing track, whether they are doing team sports – to function when you are on the field and you are not sure when you reach back to Barbados you will have a job, or that you are threatened if you go on a tour as a national athlete? It’s expected that the Sports Development Act will deal with this.” Griffith said
That legislation will seek to protect sportspersons from disadvantages when training or representing their country.
Griffith also disclosed that even at the school level, sporting authorities have been having a difficult time getting education officials on board with students participating in sports.
“We have been struggling at the National Sports Council, year after year, to try to get teachers and headteachers involved in the process of embracing sports in the school system. Too often, our coaches return indicating that they were not able to complete tasks because teachers were not interested in having their children come out to participate in sports,” he said.
“We believe that to have our youngsters involved in the process is beneficial at several levels.”
Griffith expressed the hope for more support from schools in the future.