Opposition Leader Dr. Peter Phillips is promising that a People's National Party government will end contract employment as it seeks to create a more equitable society.
Making his contribution to the Budget Debate on Thursday, Dr. Phillips said contract employment denies workers the rights and benefits won for them by the trade nnion movement.
He pointed to jobs in the government service, like hospital ancillary workers and porters, as well as in the security sector, tourism and manufacturing as areas where contract work is fast replacing permanent jobs.
"Contract workers don't have no (sic) vacation leave so they can't afford to rest. Contract workers don't have sick leave so they can't afford to get sick. Contract workers have no stipulated working hours so they cannot afford to take a lunch break. They have neither collective bargaining rights nor do they have the protection against wrongful dismissals so they cannot afford an opinion. They will have no pension when they retire. Yet, in every other respect they are expected to be as productive and as invested in the work as another full-time employee," Dr. Phillips argued.
He also implored the government to act on a Labour Market Reform Commission report released two years ago.
"I believe we should put it immediately to a select committee. Let us consider it; let's see what we can do. Just don't leave it there, people suffering now," he asserted.
Give tax incentives
Amid these renewed concerns about contract employment, the Jamaica Employers' Federation (JEF) wants the government should provide tax incentives to encourage more businesses to hire workers on a full time basis.
JEF President David Wan said he disagrees with any move to end contract employment as proposed by Opposition Leader Dr. Peter Phillips in his contribution to the 2019/2020 budget presentation in Gordon House on Thursday.
Mr. Wan said the International Labour Organization stated that there is a place for contract employment in the workplace.
He asserted that employers have to match their workforce with their business model.
"I just don't feel there should be legislation that says everybody must be a full time permanent because it carries certain implications for the employer in terms of if you lose your contract with your company that you're signed with then you have to go and pay redundancy to the full time workers who are there after you've lost your contract," he explained.
Mr. Wan said there are some workers who want contract employment for various personal reasons.
He believes however that contract workers could be given more perks - such as health benefits - enjoyed by full-time employees.