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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 the 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 is based on half-truths. It reduces workers to performing instruments of an economic goal. And it ignores the metaphysical dimension of workers – who are human, spiritual, cultural and professional and require a proper context for growth.

It exerts the development of workers, without spelling out the essential and empowering context that would enable them 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

The process starts by creating the right context for the development of human capital where there is an upholding of freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining.

Other principles that must be upheld are the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labour and the elimination of discrimination concerning employment and occupation.

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

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

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

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 will 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
  1. Tegakkan maruah serta kualiti kehidupan rakyat
  2. Galakkan pembangunan saksama, lestari serta tangani krisis alam sekitar
  3. Raikan kerencaman dan keterangkuman
  4. Selamatkan demokrasi dan angkatkan keluhuran undang-undang
  5. Lawan rasuah dan kronisme
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