One of the main pillars of every democratic country that embraces the vision of the economies of the modern western world is its workforce. It is the human resource of each nation that keeps the economy running and that is the catalyst for advancement, both socially, economically and last but not least culturally. Irrespective of the line of work, each and every worker is directly or indirectly, contributing in this growth, and governments are well aware of this. Without an active and productive work force the whole country would come to a standstill, and for this reason, administrators, both on a National and on a European level, are constantly legislating in favour of better working conditions, higher salaries, higher standards of safety and moreover, more exercises in lifelong learning, cross border opportunities and another one thousand and one incentives in order to keep the economic engine running as smoothly as possible and to avoid glitches.
This is also proof of the advancement that society has made throughout the years in assuring that the charter of human rights, which clearly cites that everyone should be treated as an equal , without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status and furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty is adhered to and that his or her rights are protected by law. We have all heard of cases of discrimination based on these issues but luckily these cases, while these still occur, they are by far less occurring than a few years ago.
There are however several anomalies in the law that still stand today, and which are discriminatory. Work regulation orders are a case in point. We have a set of legal orders that based on one’s place of work, varies the number of days of paid sick leave and other entitlements, not to mention that these benefits vary from one country to another. Whilst the latter may be acceptable on the principle that each and every country is free to legislate differently from other member states, it is not acceptable for workers in the same country to have different conditions. Why should a salesperson be able to avail of 15 days sick leave on full pay and 36 on half pay whereas a carpenter has only 12 days on full pay and 12 days on half pay, or even worse a bus driver only 12 days on full pay? It does not make any sense. Imagine yourself, a worker in the metal industry, getting married to a salesperson, you get a week of marriage leave whilst your other half gets only three days giving you two days of waiting for Godot! The reasoning behind these conditions escape me, it gets worse, if you become a father, and you work in construction you get 2 days of special leave, but if you work in a cinema you get only one day, if you work in a textile company and someone dear departs, you are entitled to three days of bereavement but if you work in gaming you can only avail yourself of one day, to add insult to injury, in a time when we applaud ourselves of introducing same sex marriages, these conditions differ according to your marital status.
It is high time to take a closer look at these regulations and scrap them. There should be no compromise, we should have a set of regulations that are equal for everyone but most importantly fair. There should be a serious discussion on the matter between the interested parties, the Unions, the Employers and the Industrial and Employment relations department. Whoever introduced these measures had an archaic way of thinking and this is no longer acceptable.
We have to put our glittery words about equality into action and take the necessary steps to get rid of this anomaly. It will be a very brave step towards real equality.