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Redefining the labor sector

Ike Señeres

THE term laborer usually denotes “worker”, hence the general understanding is that only the “real” laborers could be considered as “blue collar workers”. In modern usage however, the term “office worker” is also used, hence the general acceptance that they are also “white collar workers”. In recent times however, and perhaps due to the so-called “knowledge based economy” (KBE), factory lines have been partly replaced by workers of light industries that appear to be doing “white collar” work rather than “blue collar”. In other words, the demarcation between the two types of workers might have already diminished, so much so they could now all fall under the general term of “labor”, a term that is relative to the term “management”. By process of elimination, all those who do not belong to “management” belong to “labor”.

For all intents and purposes, it could be said that all those who are self-employed could also be considered as “employees”, meaning to say that they are working for themselves. This category could also include entrepreneurs who are also in effect working for themselves, and co-operators who are also in effect working for themselves, being members of cooperatives. At some point in their existence, entrepreneurs could eventually become employers also, in which case they in effect become part of management also. Never mind that however, because if at one time they worked as self-employed employees, they could still be considered as laborers, because it is not really their fault that they went up in the ranks. That observation may also apply to the people who retire as part of management, but went up in the ranks.

In common usage, farmers are generally not considered as workers, because they are generally considered as peasants or tenants, so to speak. The latter category is actually rather vague, because a tenant is actually a renter who is a customer of the landowner. Perhaps the real meaning of these terms have been lost over the years, because landowners are generally known as “landlords”, in effect suggesting that they are the “masters” of the tenants who are actually practically treated as “slaves”. Even looked down lower are peasants who are actually temporary or seasonal workers who are simply just part-time employees but are nonetheless treated as resident slaves. This kind of misconception seems to be happening also in the case of drivers who pay “boundary” fees to the operators. In effect, the drivers are actually “renters” and the operators are the “service providers”, being owners of rental services.

In the case of tenants, it could be said that they are self-employed workers, even if they could also be considered as entrepreneurs. That is the same case as the drivers who are also self-employed workers, even if they could also be considered as entrepreneurs. In reality, all workers who are paid on a daily basis are in a similar situation as the peasants who are also paid on a daily basis. The luckier ones in this category are the contractual workers who are hired for periods lesser than six months, instead of being contracted on a daily basis. In reality however, they are really not that lucky, because they are actually being robbed of their rights to become permanently employed. This is the illegal practice colloquially known as “ENDO”, meaning “end of contract”.

I am happy to note that the government is now strictly enforcing the laws against “Endo”, but I am sad that no recognition is being given to my brother Roy, who vigorously campaigned against “Endo” until he met his death while running as a presidential candidate. Roy has always been campaigning against this illegal practice long before he was a candidate, but I was the one who made him aware of the colloquial term. I also introduced to him “Dedo” as yet another colloquial term that is worst than “Endo”, because it is the illegal practice of denying employment to those who are above 31 years old. In local parlance, these are the people who have gone beyond the number of calendar days, and in effect they become practically dead in the job market. When many politicians jumped into the “Endo” bandwagon that was started by Roy, they all sang in a chorus that laws ought to be passed to prohibit the practice. It took Roy to make all of them aware that the laws against the practice are already in existence, and all we have to do is to implement them.

As it is generally known, only about 10 percent of the population are controlling the wealth in this country, explaining why there is a very high poverty rate. Therefore, if we have any problem identifying who the real workers are and who are not, we could perhaps generally say that all those who belong to the other 90 percent are probably workers, no matter what. Under normal circumstances, some people would already advocate a violent revolution to tilt the balance of wealth, but that is not what I am advocating. Instead, I am advocating that we achieve an equilibrium between those who have too much, and those who do not have enough. One way or the other, what we need is a balance of wealth in an inclusive society.


E-mail: iseneres@yahoo.com


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TREND MAKER. Mindanao Gold Star Daily was established in 1989 to set ablaze a new meaning & flame to the local newspaper business. Throughout the years it continued its focus and interest in the rural areas & pioneered the growth of countryside journalism.

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