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Friday, October 25, 2013

THE RIGHT TO WORSHIP


There is a wind blowing in the direction of changing the Religious Liberty concept  as it relates to the work place in Jamaica .

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The right To Worship
As Human beings we all have rights such as the right to life ,property, education,  etc. this includes religious liberty  right. In Jamaica the law of Religious Liberty is entrenched   the Jamaican Constitution. and can be found in the Charter of rights in The Jamaican Constitution.  

The Religious liberty Right
17.-(1) Every person shall have the right to freedom of religion including the freedom to change his religion and the right, either alone or in community with others and both in public and in private, to
18 [No1] manifest and propagate his religion in worship, teaching, practice and observance.

(2) The constitution of a religious body or denomination shall not be altered except with the consent of the governing authority of that body or denomination.

(3) Every religious body or denomination shall have the right to provide religious instruction for persons of that body or denomination in the course of any education provided by that body or denomination whether or not that body or denomination is in receipt of any government subsidy, grant or other form of financial assistance designed to meet, in whole or in part, the cost of such course of education.

(4) No person attending any place of education, except with his own consent (or, if he is a minor, the consent of his parent or guardian) shall be required to receive religious instruction, or to take part in or attend any religious ceremony or observance, which relates to a religion or religious body or denomination other than his own.
The Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms (Constitutional Amendment) Act, 2011

 There is a growing concern in Jamaica that the some members of particular religious organizations are being marginalized in the Job as it relates to their day of Worship.
People who worship on Saturday are finding it increasingly difficult to get Jobs because they do not work on Saturday since it is regarded as their Sabbath.

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The entrenched religious liberty law gives individual the right to choose their belief and their day of worship.   The day a person worships should not cause him to be excluded from the job force. Employers should endeavor to work with the employees and  where  possible make such arrangement so that the workers  get the opportunity to have a day free  to worship  how and when  is their choice

Essential Services
There are  services that are regarded as essential services the chief are the ones related to preserving life and property. If one works in these department they cannot take part in  industrial actions and if they do, they are liable  to be put before the court or industrial tribunal  and be charged or sentenced; some of these services are:
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Hospital services
Water
Electricity
Telephone
Police
Arm forces
Security
Fire fighting
 Air traffic
Boarding educational institution
There are religions such as the Seventh Day Adventist faith  who know  that by law the above  are essential services but  would prefer that their members  are asked to work only in the life saving and emergencies  areas such as hospital , institutional boarding, and in some cases security. 
 
 In this light institutions government or  private sector who are able to make arrangement for such workers to work their 40 Hours work week  without major disruption to these services are asked to accommodate the aboue preferences. Those who are able to so but refuse may be putting themselves at the risk of facing some legal repercussions relating to the religious liberty law.

Duty of the Employee
It also rest with the worker to be truthful to the employer when interviewed for the job. Always be willing to accept a compromise  such as working longer hours, coming in earlier or staying late. You may have to do the less desirable shift. You may have to do shift exchange with other workers . As  a marginalized worker if you do get the job your work should be exemplary .You must be honest and  do not steal your employer’s time subtly,  such as spending over the allotted time for lunch, spending unnecessary time  for toiletries and gossiping. You must be the worker whom your employer cannot afford to lose, be very good at what you do.

   Flexi  Week.

 This is a work arrangement where workers are given the opportunity to work forty hours each week at different hours, different days  and different places.
The advantages are:  It does not have to be from Monday  to Friday. It can be so arranged to cover less days , more days, working from home  and all types of creative  40 hours work week  arrangement.
This should be good for the workers who worship on Saturdays since the working schedule could  bypass Saturday.
Some individuals may be able to do two  or three jobs with ease. Financially and economically it has its positives.
The disadvantages are:  It could also work against workers  as some employers can be insensitive and roster them to include the Sabbath their  day of worship.
It has the potential to disrupt family structure and  family arrangement and could impact the social and educational stability of the family therefore impact the nation on a whole

Help for the Marginalized Sabbath Keeper.

The Seventh Day Adventist Church does put in place help for its members. In each church there is a Religious Liberty Coordinator to whom member can voice their concern in relationship to their religious rights. This problem  is then documented . It is then taken up with the employer or may be sent to the local  Conference pastor or president in charge of Religious Liberty Rights and may be sent to Genera conference,or may be taken to the industrial tribunal and may be taken to court . This would entail the use of a lawyer.

Taking Up the Challenge
As Seventh  Adventist  members individuals could change the religious landscape  in Jamaica and help other brothers and sisters who face difficulty within the work place especially when it comes to getting the right to be free to worship on the day  one chooses
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You can make the difference. Send  your concerns. send  your real  experience, send documented  evidence, send facts of being marginalized at least 1000 cases strong  from Jamaica can make the difference

The  challenge must be taken up by  the Seventh Day Adventist lawyers  young or old.Stand Up For Religious Liberty in Jamaica 
Need to get more information of how you can  you can help.
Call: Tel 1 876-  571-7059
Contributing Author
Juliet Christie Murray


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