I CONFESS: Stand up for your rights in the workplace
I WAS RECENTLY FIRED. To be honest, I do not even know why. But because of the manner in which it was done, I simply can’t sit idly by.
After sacrificing almost a decade of sweat and blood to that company, I received a call one dreadful evening asking me not to report to work. Instead I was summoned to the office where I was given my green paper and told that my services were no longer required.
This sad news was also given to over 50 additional employees, some of whom have laboured for as much as five, ten and, in some cases, 17 years. And the company is positioning itself to chop more heads.
As bad as this may seem – since we were not given any previous notice – it was in fact a good reason compared with the dozens who have been, and continue to be, wrongfully dismissed just because a customer wins a significant sum of money on their shift – a thing you have absolutely no control over since the gambling business in itself is a major risk.
It is for these workers who are too scared to do anything about it that I write.
While I was not a perfect employee, I was by no means the worst as I’d get the job done with the limited resources made available to me under very deplorable conditions. For five days a week, I would work for eight hours straight without being able to take the 30-minute lunch break I was entitled because, firstly, the business opens 24/7 so I couldn’t leave whenever I was working alone, which was most times; and, secondly, whenever it was busy I couldn’t even get a second to have a bathroom break far less a few minutes to eat.
Nonetheless, not having a lunch break on a daily basis seems petty compared to my other experiences on the job. One I hated most was my weekly encounters with the boss when he came to collect money and clear machines. Admittedly, on some occasions he was pleasant, but for the most part he’d be hostile and disrespectful.
On arrival, he carefully examined the jackpot slips and IOUs, if any. Then he would yell, “You ‘female dogs’ (to put it nicely) giving away all my . . . money? Why is it that ‘John Brown’ seems to always be winning money on your shift?”
This treatment trickled down to the customers – the lifeblood of any business. No wonder deserted rooms have replaced once lively arcades.
One complaint that frustrates customers is the issuance of IOUs. Several customers go elsewhere because they can’t get their winnings on the same day.
Another much talked about issue which disgusts the gamblers is the immediate banning of customers after they have won $25 000. This action is not prohibited by law but the majority of the gamblers do not know their rights or what these companies can and cannot do.
But most don’t do anything because they are black and the owners are not.
And in this twisted, crooked society we live in, the black man’s right will turn into his wrong simply because he does not have the kind of money and power that Whites have.
Tell me, why must we continue to allow these people from all over to come here and take not only our land but our freedom of speech and even our pride and dignity while at it?
Wake up, my people. It is high time we take back control.
To those of you who are not gamblers or may not have any interest in the matter, I urge you to remember the words of the great Martin Luther King that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”.
As is often reiterated, in 1816 we had Bussa; in 1937, Clement Payne; then we had Frank Walcott. I want to know which person will be the next to stand up and fight for the rights of the black people in Barbados.
Please do not get me wrong. My purpose is not to bash but to bring light to the situation. Like the many politicians who, once elected, tend to forget they are in fact a slave of the people and not a master, these businessmen need to realize that even with all the wealth in the world they can’t succeed by themselves. They need not only competent, capable employees to deliver excellent service but customers to purchase their products and services since that is the only way they can build on their existing capital.
No man is an island, no matter his skin colour, creed or class or wealth. At the end of life’s journey when we’ve all gone six feet deep, we are all equals in the eyes of God.
I trust that my words will cause the people in question to examine their conscience since there is a higher court than the court of justice – that is the court of conscience.