Priest appeals to authorities on behalf of retrenched workers
Anglican cleric Reverend John Rogers is lobbying for justice for retrenched Government workers.
He told Barbados TODAY that it was unacceptable that the close to 200 workers who were laid off at the National Conservation Commission (NCC), had not yet received severance pay, seven months after being sent home.
“We understand that the Government has to do these things . . . but I am particularly concerned that you have people out there on the breadline and they were promised that there will be a tribunal, there will be a hearing, [but] it seems as though no one remembers them or no one thinks of what they are going through and I think that is a serious problem for us,” said Rogers, the priest in charge at the St Luke’s Anglican Church.
Earlier this year Government sent home some 3,000 workers as part of its fiscal adjustment programme.
The clergyman warned that the situation needed to be dealt with to avoid it becoming volatile.
“You see, it’s one thing to have a corrupt society where people pilfer; it’s another thing to have a society where the citizens do not feel that they will get justice from the places they should get justice. When that happens, that creates a very volatile situation and I really wouldn’t want Barbados to come to that,” he said.
Rogers therefore urged the authorities to resolve the matter as quickly as possible.
“I think we need to address justice in our society. You can’t take away the rights of people without [addressing] why it has happened. We really have to look at that. I think that’s a critical point for us now, especially within this economy we are having,” he explained.
He added: “You can’t have people out there feeling that [they were] promised justice and there’s none.”
The priest said he was also worried about the length of time it took for matters to be heard and processed in the law courts.
“Just Sunday, I was telling the congregation about a case in which I was involved as a teacher. A young lady confided in me about what turned out to be statutory rape. A court case ensued and this was when the girl was in second or third form. That case did not come to a conclusion until she was finished sixth form but . . . she had support.
“Think of the vast number [of people] out there who may be going through that and feel their self worth and their dignity taken away from them by a system that was supposed to help because it is just too drawn out.
“Look at the other side of it also of a man who may be accused of something and can’t get justice to have himself exonerated so he walks around with this stigma for years. We really need to address some of these issues, it’s very serious,” he added.
Rogers also expressed concern about the increasing number of gun crimes in the country.
He said this demonstrated “a lack of sanctity for life among many of our people” that must be reined in before it reverses the country’s gains.
“I won’t put it on the young people, I’ll put it on all people because we all know about the upsurge in gun violence in the community and it bothers me because we need not be there. Barbados has spent too much money educating its people and so on for us to go that way.
“I think that’s a big problem for us and we need to find out why, if it is just persons caught up with a mentality from elsewhere which really has nothing to do with our dynamics or, if indeed, we have been educating people in mind and not in morals . . . That is probably the most dangerous type of society to have – some very bright people who have no scruples. So we need to seriously look at that,” he explained.
Rogers, however, admitted that the Church must take the lead in addressing the crime problem.