The promises to alleviate the plight of the working class is a regular annual circus among politicians. Even without the asking, politicians are always ready with their narratives of pro-labor stance that is promising to the ears upon those who hear. In the long battle between workers and management, laws appear to be on the side of those who have less in life. There are voluminous laws that provide protection workers while requiring employers to observe labor standards for the welfare of workers. There too are laws that are aimed to maintain human relations and peace in the workplace.
Unfortunately, laws are often observed in the breach than in compliance. Workers remain hapless as employers continue to violate the rights of workers, mainly those that require a standard wage for a decent living of the workers’ family. Wages are subject to negotiation on the bargaining table and employers often have the upper hand. The high cost of living on the part of the workers is always outweighed by the high cost of business operations that could cause closure and drag the workers into joblessness.
Of all the factors affecting business, it is always the cost of labor that is easily identified as the one that could cause perdition. It is simple to calculate the cost of labor as against the other factors such as fuel, electricity and water where one has to compute its effect on the total production and business operation. In the clash between labor and management, labor is always at the mercy as capitalists obtain the strong backing and support of policymakers and implementers of labor laws, rules and regulations.
The public remain at the sidelines as mere expectant spectators while mainstream labor groups hold rallies and demonstrations to fight for workers’ rights. People in the sidelines watch how their fellow workers are dispersed, peacefully but in most cases, violently, by government forces tasked to maintain the peace. The scene of labor leaders and cause-oriented groups expressing their lamentations on the plight of the working man, are loud enough to be heard on the streets and carried by media outlets. But the wails and cries seem too weak to reach the ears of policymakers and those tasked to implement labor laws.
In some cases, employers are too clever to runaround labor laws, ably assisted by those in power to implement the laws. It truly is mindboggling how employers are able to escape legal requirements if not by the help of shenanigans in the bureaucracy. Take for instance the underreporting of the number of employees just to evade the requirement for wage and salary standard as the business is made to appear on paper as a small enterprise. There too is the evasion of tax payments as the business is deemed small.
The social injustice suffered by the working class does not only happen in regular businesses such as manufacturing, trade, commerce and service. The situation also affects farmworkers and those in the blue collar jobs such as laborers in copra, rice and construction warehouses. The same conditions are prevalent among workers in the fourth estate. In the face of these perennial labor problems, government is ready to give answers that is . . . repeat again.
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