In a world of no sweet without sweat, the living has to work to survive and improve their well-being. But whatever work we do has the rights of the workers.
Employers are supposed to treat employees with mutual respect and decency to reduce work stress and conflict.
Workplace respect improves communication between colleagues and reduce stress as peace and productivity soars.
In his 1891 encyclical, Of the New Things, Pope Leo XIII tackled rights and duties of capital and labour. He highlighted that labour, which is too long and too hard, and the belief that pay is inadequate does not infrequently give workers cause to strike and become voluntarily idle.
This evil, which is frequent and serious, ought to be remedied by public authority because such interruption of work inflicts damage not only upon employers and the workers themselves, but also injures trade and commerce and the general interest of the State.
It is vital to note that workers should deserve the salary that they work for at the end of the month. It is demotivating that some workers’ salaries which are far below the minimum wage set by the government.
Some workers in shops that dot the country’s towns and cities receive salaries that are not inconformity with the rising cost of living today. Some domestic workers employed by fellow Malawians do not even receive a salary at the end of the month. Instead, they receive material things such as shoes, clothes and foodstuffs. Sometimes, the material things do not fit them properly because they are hand-me-downs. This is horrible and nefarious.
Pope John Paul II wrote on the 90th anniversary of Pope Leo’s social encyclical, Rerum Novarum, in which he presents work as a fundamental dimension of human existence through which the person achieves fulfillment as a human being.
He emphasised the dignity of labor and notes that through work, the human person can share in the activities of the Creator.
In his epistle, Pope John Paul II reminds the readers that labour should be priotised over capital, that the worker should be valued more than the profit.
For this reason, we must protect the rights of workers to employment, to just wages and to organise unions, among others.
The Pope also calls for new movements of solidarity of the workers and with the workers.
As long as we continue to exist, it is within our mandate and jurisdiction to ensure that the dignity of workers is promoted and their rights observed.
US president Abraham Lincoln once said: “Labour is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is the only fruit of laboor and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labour is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.”
This pauses a difficult question: Why do we not respect the dignity of work and the rights of workers?
It’s time to look at the plight of workers and accord them the dignity they deserve and respects the rights they need to enjoy as human beings.
on January 12 2011, US president Barack Obama delivered his eloquent speech, Together We Thrive, in which he stated: “We are reminded that, in the fleeting time we have on this earth, what matters is not wealth or status or power or fame, but rather how well we have loved and what small part we have played in making the lives of other people better”
My greatest prayer is to have the dignity of workers and rights of workers recognised more come May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections.
This should be part of great reforms in the next government and all stake holders. n