Dignity of human labour
By Rev Fr. John Damian Adizie
INTERNATIONAL workers day is the celebration of work-ers’ welfare. It is also a day to reflect on the dignity of human labour. Most count-ries observe their Labour Day on May 1. Countries like Nigeria, observe this day as a public holiday.
The theme of this year’s Labour day is “Uniting Workers for Social and Economic Advancement.” It is anticipated that when workers unite, not only to fight for their selfish inter-est, but for the common good, they achieve more.
The early Christians were united in their mission: “The whole group of be-lievers were of one heart and soul, and no one cl-aimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common” (Acts 4:32). They were not just united in their mission, in fact, they shared what they have in common. That is why they succeed-ed in their mission. Unfor-tunately, this is exactly what is lacking in our so-ciety today!
Capitalism does not en-courage such unity, shar-ing and solidarity. It is an economic system that is geared towards excess profit making. The interest and welfare of workers are often neglect-ed. Capitalism is also a syst-em where the rich are getting richer whereas the poor are getting poorer. In an oppress-ive system like this, it is very difficult to get the workers to be united for social and economic adv-ancement.
As we celebrate another Labour’s day, we wish to remind the government, and those concerned that workers/labourers deserve their wages (Luke 10:7). Last year President Buhari expressed shock when he realized how many months workers have not received their salaries. He then asked, “How can anyone go to bed and sleep soundly when workers have not been paid their salaries for months.” This is the highest form of injustice! The non-payment of work-ers’ salary is indeed the major cause of economic recession and hardship in Nigeria.
This notwithstanding, two wrongs cannot make a right. Labour Day should not be reduced to a day when workers express their grievances or a day when they demand their rights. It should be a day when workers should cele-brate their achievement towards social and econ-omic advancement. It should also be a day to en-courage hard work by giv-ing award and prizes to hardworking workers.
Finally, May I remind my fellow workers that there is dignity in labour. We should not just reduce labour to money venture. Work defines us as God’s co-creators. There is a reward for every good work. As the Psalmist declares: “By the labour of your hands you shall eat” (Psalm 128:2). As you continue to work hard, you shall live to enjoy the fruit of your labour and it shall be well with you in Jesus name. Amen!