By Vincent Shun

A relative of mine dropped out of high school at a very young age. Both parents having left the country, she was pretty much left to figure life out alone. About two years after dropping out of secondary school, she became a teen mom, now having to raise a child and learning what it means to be a parent, cutting short her own childhood and completely unprepared for parenthood.

Lacking financial support or a stable environment, the basic essentials that she needs to thrive, she was determined to rewrite her destiny against all odds. All of the setbacks and circumstances didn’t deter her. She was strong-willed; she was determined. Her first plan of action was to take a bartending course and become certified, which she did within a few months. She was proud of her accomplishment. She then put together her resume, which wasn’t very extensive or exceptional, but what it lacked in content was made up for by being clear and precise. She went on to take her resume to several bars. She received a call for an interview within two days; she beamed with hope and excitement. As the reality sank, in she felt unprepared, never before had she had a job interview. Determined to make the best first impression, she sought advice on how to interview for the job, and after some practice, she went on the interview and landed the job as a waitress.

Again she felt a sense of pride and excitement but her emotions were quickly extinguished by the reality that she had no funds for a uniform or passage to get to her first day of work, she had made it this far and wasn’t going to give up yet.

Eventually, she was able to borrow some funds, put herself together and went to her first day on the job. The job required odd hours and long shifts, at times finishing at 3 a.m. or later. Within her first two nights of employment as a waitress, she tasted her first job disappointment after having made $22 tips, the bar she worked for forced employees to give up all tips to the bar. This crushed the joy she felt of providing excellent service that earned her a tip. She contemplated quitting but needed the job for the income and decided to stay on.

Within two weeks of her employment, another bar offered her a waitress job with similar pay but, in addition, workers were allowed to keep their tips. This offer excited her, and she quickly made the decision to join that establishment. On her first night of work, she made some tips, which she was able to keep. Now she began to feel her efforts were worth it. The long shifts and odd hours were more tolerable but it wasn’t too long before she would taste her second disappointment.

It was the end of the month and employees were scheduled to be paid but didn’t receive their wages on time. She went to work for another week without receiving the previous month’s pay. Not having much money to continue traveling to work without pay eventually took its toll and she ended up quitting during the second week of no-pay for the previous month’s work.

Her situation worsened. She was back at home with no money, no other skills and no other job offer. Even if she were to get another offer, she had no way of getting to work without the funds needed to pay passage. It was then she began to recoil back into the stress of being jobless and raising a child in a country that provides no benefits for its citizens, unemployment, disability or otherwise. She became depressed, and to distract herself from the reality of her life that felt nothing but hopeless, she would go out and socialise with others who also had struggles similar to her own.

This unproductive lifestyle led her further into the abyss and not too long after, she became involved in a domestic violence dispute that saw her charged with attempted murder. All parties involved, including the victim, were all under the ages of 20 and unemployed.

While I do not condone violence of any kind, a harsh reality that we fail to see is that, while the parties to the crime could have chosen nonviolent part, another or better solution is that they could have either been in school or employed being productive members of society. The system failed them all first, even the jobs failed them. Expecting persons who are undereducated to make sound life decision is impractical. The exploitation of Vincentians by private companies and the government leaves the members of society unproductive and falling into the only possible outcome — chaos.

The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

5 replies on “In a failed economy, everyone’s a victim”

  1. What you have presented us there Vincent Shun, pertaining to that relative of yours, is all too familiar and common here in this failing jobless SVG economy. What we have there is incompetence and negligence on the part of Government by their failure to create a business friendly environment, and who would tell us that “Labour Love” and in addition we have, gross abuse by her employer who have exploited her joblessness.

    Moreover, she is indeed most powerless to deal with both our incompetent government and the abusive employer. Firstly because we live in a family dictatorship and secondly we have a failed legal system that would have otherwise given her a very cheap and easy access to recover her wages.

    My take on the “Labour Love” nonsense is that Labour loves to keep us all very poor and equally dunce!

    My family who are Christians, have the singular ability to create some Jobs here in SVG but have declined upon family discussions, they have decided not to do so on account of the poor legal system, low skills sets and the overarching control of the family dictatorship that is so very bad for good business and enterprise.

    We wish your relative well, and hope that the good lord will show her a way out of her sad problems and initial mistakes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fdOl_CxLNm0

    1. It really is sad that people such as the woman in the story are in a never-ending cycle of poverty due to our very poor system here in SVG. As one person below commented that we have a Socialism type environment but without the benefits of Socialism. We have Capitalism at the same time but the high taxes of Socialism keep the free market from working. It seems like th result is that only those that get a “special” break such as very big concession or something else, have a chance of making it.

      Another (proven) great economist is Dr, Prof. Paul Craig Roberts. who provided the environment that started big business in my area, Amazon, Microsoft, Starbucks, etc…As well as Lockheed and many other Defence Contractors, unfortunately but the point is that we are certainly doing the wrong things here in SVG if we want prosperity. In fact we do the opposite!
      My suggestion would be for the government to allow the Private Sector to thrive and thereby create jobs instead of sucking it dry of all its wealth. Lower Customs Duties significantly on most things, Lower the Corporate tax to 21% where it should be, not 32%. That is WAY TOO HIGH!! I could mention so very much more that the government has to change if they want to have an environment that fosters prosperity but at this time they seem to not want this.

      In effect the government has to start thinking about the financial health of the people instead of only thinking of ways to suck the money out of everyone so it can do big projects, (that have very little benefit for the people anyway)! The government has to show leadership by making some sacrifice instead of demanding the private sector (the people) always make the sacrifice.

  2. All over SVG, from Owia to Canouan, workers from all walks of life are treated like slaves under the auspices of the ULP government even as Vincentians are still in debt for the new Airport, which is being run by a minister who is a complete ignorant Jackass. When election time comes ULP has money to bribe poor people (and cheat) so they can stay in charge of the treasury and live in their mansions, drive expensive vehicles and travel like the Jetset, while poor people have to run and leave their children behind to suffer in misery and work for a meager pittance in another man’s country until they catch themselves. This has been going on forever. It is time for this to end.

  3. Good article. It also shows how a socialist country can have no benefits of socialism. Is it only the private companies that exploit the workers or does the government do this as well? What is left out is all the costs the private company has to send to the government for each worker, but none of that money seems to make it to the people. As bad as all socialism is, what kind of socialism do we have anyway?
    We have all the worst things from Capitalism (tax breaks for the rich on Mystique and Canouan) and all the worst things from Socialism, (the high taxes on the middle-class).
    Nevertheless we keep voting for more of the same.

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