By Daniel S.
One aspect of the Eritrean revolution was to rectify the injustice involving the exploitation of labour. This was central to many of the debates in the revolution as it was central to socio-economic and political life of our people. Everything emanated from it; wealth, social and political power, exploitation and injustice. Hence, it wouldn’t have been possible to address much of the ills of the society without the emphasis on labour. Precisely for this reason, the Eritrean revolution was called a Marxist movement. But it worked and liberation was achieved at the wake of the so called “post-cold war era”, where Marxism and its narratives was thought to be a thing of the past.
Labour is a word tacitly associated with Marxist narratives. The fact the matter is however, though it might be the Marxist line that has taken labour as one of the basic elements of its discourse, labour nonetheless is the foundation of life. Hence it has natural and universal quality that enables it to transcend any ideological imposition. That is why the issue of labour is a resilient point of debate even today. In the heart of the current phenomenon of movements like occupy Wall Street, for instance, lays this very issue. One of the main arguments explaining the movement is the one that blames bad jobs as responsible for increasing economic inequality. Income has flowed to the top 1% because it has stopped flowing to the base; in another word exploitation of labour.
Movements like Occupy Wall Street are in full swing everywhere. This shows that the issue of labour is still a major bone of contention. However the value given for it might differ with time and place. Some for instance have argued that, in this era of globalization and technological advancement labour has begun to price itself out of the system. This is to state that the centrality of labour in generating wealth is no more the case. However, in much of the developing world labour is still the central factor in the creation of wealth and development. And whether we like it or not much of the injustice developing countries have to address, has its heart on their willingness to respect the value of labour or the lack thereof.
As in Eritrea, elsewhere in developing countries, labour and labourers are still at the heart of the national aspiration. The priority in these countries is a well rounded development with equitable distribution of resources and wealth which are the fruits of labour. The immense construction and reconstruction endeavor in just about every sector, has its guarantee of success on the pool of active work force they will be able to mobilize now and for times to come. As such labour should be treated with dignity. First and foremost governments should create conducive environment to make the most out of the labour resource they have. They have to believe that it is something that has to be utilized wisely for ultimate effectiveness and act accordingly.
But no matter how effectively countries use their labour resource for their development, it would still be incomplete if they couldn’t reward labour fairly. The dignity of labour can only be materialized when there is justice in the allocation of national wealth. This is also at the heart of social justice which is instrumental in well rounded development.
In a world where wealth is increasingly centralized and where the gap between the rich and poor is widening, developing countries have a chance to do what’s right to build a meaningful development where their people live fairly. And It all depends on whether we will respect the dignity of labour or not.