Freedom of choice

There are times in the life of an individual when emotions run high. These may differ from person to person and therefore cannot necessarily be defined. Be that as it may, it can be said that there are two occasions when the emotions of the people of any society are aroused.

Firstly, it is almost a given that the people of a nation usually respond in times of crisis. A case in point is the response which a natural or man-made disaster brings. There are numerous examples all over the world that most can relate too.

Certainly, most will remember the 9/11 terrorists attack on the Twin Towers in the United States. This despicable act by whoever were the perpetrators had a direct or indirect impact on people all over the world.

On the national front, the calling of a general election or a national strike evokes great tension and discussion. These two events lead to the enunciation of diverse opinions and divisions, both at the personal and organisational level.

The workplace is usually a common place where the division becomes evident. Workers have their political preferences and loyalty. Some employees are not averse to airing their loyalty or political preferences. Others either remain silent or use subtle ways to express which political party they prefer or whether they support intended industrial action.

These are two serious matters that can undermine the stability and productivity of the workplace. It requires that a sense of maturity prevails if this is to be avoided. The calling of general elections or a general strike by a trade union is not to be taken lightly. They both involve the mobilisation of people.

In either instance, people cannot be taken for granted. The powers of influence and persuasion are necessary tools that must be engaged. Some people need to be convinced on the course of action to take, whilst others are fully conscious and settled in their minds of what they are required to do.

Whether the matter is that of a general election or a national strike, it goes without saying that the response of labour force will weigh significantly in the final outcome, whether success or failure. In the case of national elections, the politicians ought to be very conscious of the promises that they make to the populace; both the employed and the unemployed.

In small societies like Barbados, job creation should remain a number one priority for the politicians. This would certainly satisfy the members of the labour force who remain unemployed. On the other hand, those who are employed carry the hope of an improved economy that will lead to improve wages and salaries, and consequently a better standard of living.

When a national strike is called or when a Government is elected to office, a high level of confidence is placed in the leadership. They remain accountable to the people. In moving to respect the individual’s opinion and/or preference there are some basic things that should be observed without question.

It starts with the freedom of the individual to express his/her opinion without fear of intimidation or reprisal. The right of every individual to associate with a political party is to be respected. In the workplace every employee should therefore observe the right of others to agree and/or disagree over their choice of a political party or candidate. In much the same vein, employees ought to respect the right of their colleagues to take or not to take industrial action.

It is generally unlikely that an employer will have any difficulty with an employee who does not take a form of industrial action. There are those who would attempt to pressure employees not to take industrial action. However, because of their political affiliation or allegiances some employees may seek to pressure employees into supporting a political party or candidate. This is fundamentally wrong and should not be tolerated. Workers should never allow the constitutional freedoms that they enjoy to be trampled upon by any source.

* Dennis De Peiza is a Labour Management Consultant with Regional Management Services Inc.

Visit our Website: www.regionalmanagementservicesinc

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