It is common knowledge that a substantial portion of Bermuda’s young Black males use marijuana, with there alse being a belief that such is preventing many from being welcomed into the traditional work force.
Bermuda Industrial Union president Chris Furbert this week said that it was unfortunate that many employable Black males may be denied work on the basis of a person’s recreational use of the drug in their own time away from the workplace.
“I don’t think everyone should be painted with the same brush,” said Mr Furbert, speaking at the recent BHB jobs fair “We have to have the understanding that some people in society have a lifestyle that they have garnered their life around.
“And it’s unfortunate that simple things, like maybe marijuana is something we should take into consideration.
“I think that we should look at it on a case by case basis and not rule people out simply on their use of marijuana.”
Mr Furbert was keen to point out that he did not condone the use of illegal drugs. However, specifically in the case of marijuana, a drug which the current Government has had denied by Britain an attempt to legalise, employers perhaps should consider making adjustments in terms of institutional drug policies.
“I’m not saying this to downplay the illegal use of it, but we have people in the workplace now that have been their for 20 to 30 years that smoke marijuana and it’s interesting that these people still have their jobs,” said Mr Furbert. “Because the drug policy that we have in place was supposed to be punitive but not punishing people.
“Our people, when they come to work, are not supposed to be under any kind of influence. So if whatever is done during the night or on weekends does not affect one’s work output, I see no reason why small amounts of marijuana should not be permitted, as far as employment is concerned.”
The union boss added that Government needed to address and look at the possibility of amending various legislation that no longer fits modern society as it moves forward in a technological age that has countries being forced to operate in macro rather than micro fashion.
“Everything else is moving into the 21st century,” he said. “We have technology changes that are happening worldwide and there are various other changes that we also have to look at.
“I’m not saying that we should increase our standards as far as quality of life in the workplace or health and safety. What I am saying is that we have to look at the bigger picture. And the bigger picture involves having those conversations about people’s needs, and what those are, and making decisions based on that.”
Mr Furbert once again raised the matter of their being a need to establish a liveable wage for all workers, as Bermudians fight to survive under the pressure of increasing costs of living.
“I see the challenges that Bermuda will continue to have due to the high cost of living,” he said. “People are looking for gainful employment so that they can have a pay-check coming in every week, but we also have to look at that liveable wage, a conversation we’ve been having for years now, with regard to the high cost of living in Bermuda, “Until so that people can see that their quality of life is improving , until we reform and improve the tax structure, people are not going to feel good about the earning that their making now.”
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