Belaboring labor: post Labor Day thoughts

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Wikipedia puts Labor Day as “an annual holiday to celebrate the achievements of workers.” The French Revolution must have taken credit for this as the revolt of the “free” began during such time. And so it is essentially used as a pattern for change. Such conflict point-of-view always brings about transition and shift in whatever setting in the society. Basically, this event has been born out of justice, fairness, and freedom to assert humanitarian rights against the freedom of trade and business. This commemoration is more of a shift in thought from a capitalist-centered mindset to a more worker-focused perspective. The idea of being the ones rightly entitled to the gains deserved more than just that manifest top-down structure.

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But I like it how it’s simply defined, that being the celebration of the “achievements” of the laborers. It sounds very promising, endearing, and positive. It can only be imagined that workers come in festivity for the success that they’ve had in years. But I dissect this idea and put it in 3rd world setting.

I ask:

  1. Does achievement necessarily mean the reward after years of laboring? Or is it still the struggle for the reward after years of struggling?
  2. Has it really been a remarkable achievement for the workers in recent years?
  3. Where is this heading in the future?

I can still see the whole arena as a constant and dynamic interchange of concerns, issues, problems, and compromised resolutions. But I daresay there isn’t even a single point of success in this. The power is difficult to manage by the seated and hurdling to gain for the struggling, and everything is left in a cycle, in the biggest hopes of a fair game. At times, I would think that this has been going on for years, and it makes me think it has just become a common undertaking, not something significant as there is less seen in change and betterment. I cannot speak of tomorrow. We may not know what shift in thoughts may come our way.

I would extend this discussion by working around the idea of freedom, fairness, and the ability to set one’s future. All these are a definite set for achievement and change. But I would put in the country’s economic landscape.

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The Philippines has been the Business Process Outsourcing hub for years now. Though we may take pride in our seemingly flawless communicative abilities, the way we enunciate and converse like Americans do, we cannot deny the fact that labor here is cheap, thus making it more attractive to investors making up to save up to the last cent of their profits. Honey-coating it makes everything a shimmering package all in all. If one gets to think further, given our dilemma to survive and earn for our families, with the uncompromising structures BPOs have, and our attitude to easily settle for monetary gains alone, we end up with no choice but to labor for the west. And this is not any different from slavery, just set in globalization. I do not deny the economic benefits for the country, and the opportunity of the worker s to provide. But I question: is this really more of an achievement for us?

Now, what relevance does this make in the whole Labor Day discussion? I say it’s the fight for freedom to work and set our futures without compromise and deprivation to live a life of choice more than just a dilemma in order just to live, to survive. I am a laborer myself in a BPO company, and so I understand the plight of the recent days.

Labor Day has not been so relevant to me until I started working for foreign companies. We, Filipinos work as much to live, to provide to our families. We don’t complain given our circumstances. We just go on. But my thrust is simple. May we one day realize that we revel in our capacity and capability to set our future, a brighter one they say. We may protest in the streets, lobby for change, or take a stand on anything. It’s our choice. It’s our freedom. But to end this, I question, do we really have enough will to celebrate and consider anything worth our achievement given our respective realities today?

Ponder.

Photo Credit: [mysticpolitics.com , http://content.lib.washington.edu, business.inquirer.net, Featured photo: http://ph.news.yahoo.com]

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