By Romell Eubank
The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us many lessons. It has taught us to be resourceful and resilient and has taught us that our essential workers are of great importance to our society – hence the title ‘essential’. The government itself understands this, and so it is now that they should show appreciation to our essential workers by increasing their salaries by at least 7%.
Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) and Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) workers are under great pressure from various directions. On one hand, they are helping to fight the pandemic by ensuring compliance with safety measures imposed by the government, and on the other hand, they are faced with Jamaica’s famous crime monster.
Despite the coronavirus claiming the lives of many around the world with the numbers slowly increasing daily in Jamaica, criminals seem to be unaffected by all the struggles the society is facing. They continue to commit murders, engage in praedial larceny as well as other forms of theft and they continue to commit other crimes.
With all these pressures coupled with long-existing issues, our security officers deserve a good salary to take care of themselves and their families.
Since the beginning of the new school year, teachers have been faced with pressure from parents and students coupled with inadequate resources. There have been many videos and voice notes being circulated on social media depicting disorderly conduct of many parents and students during virtual class sessions. Teachers have been experiencing disrespect from the days of face-to-face classes and now with fewer consequences, these incidents of disrespects have multiplied.
Many parents fail to realize that education begins in the home and so they engage in negative behaviours, not realizing that children live what they learn and then these children perform these same actions in classes causing disruptions resulting in headaches and stress for teachers. Many teachers also do not have a proper internet connection and many do not have devices to conduct classes. Many teachers have also taken it upon themselves to try to reach students who don’t have devices and internet connection because the government has been moving at a slow place to provide the support they have promised.
Nurses are on the front-line in the fight against this pandemic. Additionally, sickness, accidents, and other medical needs are not taking a vacation because of this pandemic. Those issues themselves have been pressuring nurses for decades because our health system has not been given the proper attention it needs. Those long-standing issues are now paired with their fight against the coronavirus pandemic and our nurses have to carry these burdens on low basic salaries.
It’s now time to really show appreciation to our essential workers. The government cannot argue that lack of funds impede them from raising salaries because, considering the large amount of funds that have been misappropriated by ministers, government officials, and local government officials, it is evident that money is there to fund well-needed initiatives. While our essential workers put their lives on the line to keep us safe, the government should ensure they are well taken care of by increasing their salaries so that they can effectively provide for their families and themselves.
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