Sunday, June 4, 2023

May Day: A reminder of ‘Physical Labour’

May Day signifies the celebration of the hard-fought struggles and success stories of the workers of the world over centuries. Right from long hours of work to poor wages and unsafe working conditions and host of others prompted the workers to come together to fight for their cause in unison. Labor plays the most prominent role in the production processes. Without labor nothing gets transformed. Labor is the only facet that totally transforms everything be it a barren land or a log of wood or what not, name it. Laborers are the nerve-centre of any society to subsist and to move on from one phase to another. Right from production-to-distribution-to-consumption processes the toil of the working classes is very much involved. On the other side, those who control capital say that they have the capital and so they have right to decide how much to pay and how much work the laborers have to contribute in return of their labor.
The antagonism between capitalists and the laborers continues because of the fact that on the one hand the capitalists prosper in absolute terms, while on the other the workers live in appalling conditions.
The arguments that we hear is: The ways and means the capitalists grow and accumulate property are by way of exploiting the laborers through unpaid labor that adds to surplus–profits. This is why the labor movements and the labor unions continue to struggle in favor of the workers demanding better wages and safe working conditions. At the same time the capitalists who tend to upgrade the modes of production in order to make the human labor redundant.
After the dawn of globalization, the working-class movement had to suffer a major setback due to stringent labor policies and highly controlled regulation for the trade union activities. In addition, technology too contributed immensely as the world is moving towards robotization and technologization. One of the basic tenets of capitalism is innovation, and so, the big corporations that controls natural and human resources spends huge sums of money towards research and development (R&D). Usually while analyzing any society one of the major criteria that used to be taken is the modes of production whether changed or remains the same. Undoubtedly it helps the societal analysts and, in their analysis, they keenly look at whether there have been radical changes in the modes of production or not. It would certainly determine whether the society is still feudal or semi-feudal or industrial or post-industrial.
The advanced societies located in the West, the United States and Japan are already moving towards creating robots so that the human labor could be made in the process redundant. The world is moving towards an era of robotization—wherein robots could “emerge” as the winner in due course of time. The work force both in the formal and informal sectors have been contributing to the growth, progress and welfare of the societies and enhancing the GDP and GNP. They are the life-line of any society without whom the societies cannot and shall not move on. But their status and life-cycle are in dire straits. The International Labor Organization (ILO) in its recent report of 2017 said that more than 700 million workers are living in poverty in emerging and developing societies/countries and are unable to life themselves from the grinding poverty which in terms of money $3.10 per person daily threshold in 2017.
The ILO further added that the rate of progress has slowed, and many developing countries are failing to keep pace with the growing labor force, ILO Director General Guy Ryder said. Adding further, he said that “Despite significant progress, in 2017 there were still more than 700 million workers living in poverty in emerging and developing countries, unable life themselves above the USD 3.10 per person daily poverty threshold” during International Monetary Fund (IMF) during its annual spring meeting. The ILO estimates that 67 million young women and men are unemployed globally, and around 145 million young workers in emerging and developing countries live in extreme or moderate poverty.
It also added that nothing has rebounded or trickle down whatever may have been the economic growth or prosperity and the global labor market recovery has been abysmal and uneven across the country. Ryder reiterated that new policies are required to foster decent jobs for youth in an era of rapid technical change.
The ILO chief said that “New automation and technologies pose further challenges. The opportunities they present will demand innovative policy solutions. “Adding further, “Proper infrastructure and equal access to information and technology should compliment investment in education and skills and effective approaches towards lifelong learning.
He warned that “Asia and the pacific the number of workers still in poverty will be close to 300 million by 2019.The slowdown in progress not only threaten workers’ individual well-being, but all our global ambition to eradicate poverty by 2030. He emphasized that policy must ensure that workers in advanced, emerging and developing countries all benefit from a global trading system that produces fair outcomes. Failures to do so risk the multilateral system, as the IMF warns, with significant economic costs and political risks for all nations. Key to restoring faith in policies to ensure fairer distribution of the benefits of trade, he said. Warning candidly, the ILO chief said that “Stronger labor market institutions, including minimum wages, sustainable enterprises, collective bargaining and freedom of association, are the right answers to political populists who exploit income disadvantages to undermine open economies and open borders.”
Workers by and large throughout the world suffer due to various reasons. As pointed out they are paid less wages and subject to exploitation. The current world being controlled by crony capitalists want to extract the maximum from the laboring classes and thus keep them in pathetic conditions.
Labor for want of jobs migrates within and between the borders. The only aim of those who migrate to satiate hunger and to save little bit to be sent to their families distantly living. The service and infrastructure sectors such as roads laying, housing and other development projects such as telecommunications that the public and private sectors are involved government needs these workers. In search of jobs the semi-skilled and unskilled migrate in thousands every day.
Knowing their plight, the crony capitalists bargain their wages and to the maximum exploit them. The treatment meted out by them is worse and almost be called as ‘modern slavery’. Capitalism employs diverse forms of exploitation to extract labor to maximize profit. Maximization of profits is the core of capitalism and this could be possible through labor exploitation. Most of the work force is in the unorganized sector and do not come under unions. May Day rekindles and reinstates the importance and significance of labor which is indeed the concomitant principle of human activity.
Those who contribute to the welfare of societies are treated as objects and means of exploitation. Without jobs they live in abject poverty and live in squalid conditions. Agricultural and industrial labor across the world continues to face all sorts of humiliation and desperation. Without labor the societies and nations become static. We should recognize the fact that they are the subjects of history and so LONG LIVE LABOR.
Dr. John Mohan Razu


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