[Statement] Human Labor – Not a Commodity! -VISAYAS CLERGY DISCERNMENT GROUP
VISAYAS CLERGY DISCERNMENT GROUP
Human Labor – Not a Commodity!
Statement for Labor Day 2015
April 29, 2015
Pope Francis, in his homily on the Feast of St. Joseph, the Worker on May 2013, reminded us, that a society that does not fairly compensate labor, “that does not give work to people and that only looks to its balance books; that only seeks profit is unjust and goes against God.”
Over the years, we have been presenting the Church teachings on labor. We have also
presented on-going analyses of the social situation that affects labor adversely. Perhaps, it
is now time to be PRO-ACTIVE and make CONCRETE PROPOSALS. Moreover, there is a need to
strengthen ORGANIZED LABOR and SUPPORT GROUPS both local and international.
We have elucidated ad nauseam the Church teaching that labor is NOT A COMMODITY.
However, the reality is that CAPITAL still lists labor as one of the OVERHEAD EXPENSES.
When we negotiate for a flat-rate minimum wage, we are still working within the same
INHUMAN PARADIGM of capital that looks on wages as one of the many overhead expenses.
We must get out of the present inhuman box. We must assert that labor is a HUMAN
PARTNER of CAPITAL. Without it, capital cannot produce. In fact, capital was, in the first
place, produced by labor.
In view of the above NEW VIEWPOINT and NEW PARADIGM, we suggest that labor will no
longer be included in the list of overhead expenses. Rather, when the NET PROFIT is in
place, there will be an EQUITABLE division of the collective fruit of the collaboration of
labor and capital. In the existing paradigm, the surplus value of labor goes EXCLUSIVELY to
capital, and labor is just given a pittance. Now is the time to assert that, without labor AND
capital operating TOGETHER, there cannot be profit. So, some kind of PROFIT SHARING is
The above proposal will debunk the claim of some capitalists that high wages will not make
their business profitable. In view of this, the government has exempted some “distressed”
and small businesses from giving the minimum wage. This is not working! Concomitantly,
any UNIFORM and ACROSS THE BOARD setting of a minimum wage will face the unequal
capacity of small and big capitalists.
The Church social encyclical Mater et Magistra exhorted that remuneration of labor “must be determined in accordance with justice and equity” (MM, 71). This means that workers must be compensated according to the fruits of their labor, which “allow them to live a truly human life.”
Another factor is the fear that FOREIGN INVESTMENTS might not come in if wages are too high. The STATUS QUO is that the government has an UNWRITTEN COME-ON TO FOREIGN INVESTORS, “There is more fun and PROFIT in the Philippines because labor is CHEAP and UNORGANIZED!” If labor is A NECESSARY PARTNER in the negotiations of how much foreign capital will share from the net profit, reasonable foreign investors might see a different picture.
There must be a STRATEGIC and COMPREHENSIVE PLAN OF ACTION in view of the above NEW VIEWPOINT and NEW PARADIGM. We suggest that a people’s conference will craft a
proposed LAW embodying the above NEW VIEWPOINT and NEW PARADIGM. Our chances of getting a law passed according to the spirit of the new paradigm are rather slim. But, we
use this opportunity to EDUCATE the people through public debate and education program on our proposed law.
The ULTIMATE PURPOSE is to strengthen labor union organizing. This will include a thorough analysis of the EXTERNAL and INTERNAL FACTORS that hinder and promote genuine labor unions.
Pope Francis said that trade unions are essential for social change. Earlier, St. John Paul II’s Laborem Exercens has supported the right of workers to form labor unions in order to safeguard their vital interests.
WE GO BACK TO THE BASIC PRINCIPLE – GENUINE CHANGE CANNOT COME FROM ABOVE (e.g. a new law); IT CAN ONLY COME FROM BELOW, LED BY THE VANGUARD WORKERS WHO ARE ORGANIZED INTO STRONG LABOR UNIONS; with the support of other sympathetic sectors of society.
On Labor Day, we are one with workers and all people of goodwill in the call, “PEOPLE OVER PROFIT!”
Sicut Christus vivit,
+ Gerardo A. Alminaza, D.D.
Bishop of San Carlos
Visayas Clergy Discernment Group
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