Adventists Appeal to Employers to Respect Workers Rights to Freedom of Worship

The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Jamaica is appealing to employers, in both the private and public sector, to respect the constitutional rights of workers to enjoy freedom from religious discrimination.

This, in light of a release from the National Workers Union (NWU) which indicated among other things, that a worker at the Petroleum Company of Jamaica (PETCOM) has been on suspension without pay since December 28, 2017 because he refused to work on Saturday, his day of worship.

Nigel Coke

“I spoke with the worker who claims his rights have been infringed, and he is very hurt,” said Nigel Coke, Communication, Public Affairs and Religious Liberty Director of the Jamaica Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. “Based on what is presented to me by the worker and the NWU, there seems to be a clear and blatant breach of the right of the worker to his freedom of worship.”

Coke, who is also Secretary General of the National Religious Liberty Association is reminding employers that Section 13 (3)(i) and Section 17 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the Constitution as well as the Employment (Flexible Work Arrangements) (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act and its effect on amending Section 2 of the Labour Relations and Industrial Disputes Act make religious discrimination an industrial dispute for resolution under provisions of that Act).”

“As a Church, we welcome the support of a Trade Union in this critical matter and also call on the support of employer associations to join in the effort to promote and foster respect for the rights of workers with regards to their freedom from religious discrimination at the work place.”

“We lament the fact that some employers have even declined to employ persons qualified for employment based on those persons’ religious beliefs or practices.  The practice of these employers is contrary to the constitutional rights of the workers, and to persons seeking employment, and is inconsistent with the flexible work week law which allows a worker to choose a day of rest to utilize as a day of worship, if he or she so desires, without any work – related detriment from the employer.”