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Let’s not instrumentalise the working class

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In an emerging economy like Malaysia’s, there is a constant mantra among opinion makers that workers need to go through a process of skilling, reskilling and upskilling so that the percentage of skilled workers can be increased.

They reason that this will ultimately increase wages and help Malaysia become a developed country.

This type of reasoning, based on half-truths, reduces a worker to a performing instrument of an economic goal. It ignores the metaphysical dimension of workers who are human, spiritual, cultural and professional beings and require a proper context for growth.

It exerts the development of the worker, without spelling out the essential and empowering context that will enable workers to skill, reskill and upskill themselves.

Work in a deeper spiritual dimension begins with the dignity of the human person and an understanding that work is for the common good and part of building up and glorifying creation.

It does not, like most secular frameworks, begin with economic ideologies or an ‘economy first’ worldview.

Of capitalism and labour

To develop human capital, the process begins by creating the right context. This means upholding freedom of association and recognising the right to collective bargaining.

We also need to eliminate all forms of forced and compulsory labour and discrimination in employment and occupation.

Furthermore, the constant instrumentalisation of workers reinforces the divide between capitalism and labour.

This eclipses the fact that everyone is a worker. The solidarity between management and workers that will create appropriate conditions for skilling, reskilling and upskilling is also not emphasised.

It is a pity that in the Malaysian context, the term solidarity is seldom used. Instead, self-interest has caught up with employers and unions as they continue to fight for their own interests rather than the common good that benefits the enterprise.

READ MORE:  Let's not instrumentalise the working class

So let’s build a culture of solidarity. The government should play a part in promoting the value of solidarity among employers, unions and employees.

This would help build the right context for the development of workers.

Let us not instrumentalise the workforce to a narrow economic goal. – Malaysiakini

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

AGENDA RAKYAT - Lima perkara utama
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