Inequality to Equality
By Neilan D’souza
The turn of the 18th and 19th century introduced to the world a new shift called ‘The Industrial Revolution’. Rapid technological developments in Agriculture and Handicrafts in the 18th century meant that very few workers were required to work on farms and looms. Due to which masses of people from rural areas began to migrate to urban cities looking for employment opportunities in the factories hoping to earn a better living. This change to an industrialised economy gave rise to a vast group of people who worked for daily wages and salaries in all kinds of Industries became to be known as the ‘The Working Class’; the most important contributor of our economies.
But what was seemingly true is that the Individuals who owned these Industries were the only ones who became richer leaving behind the working class in the same situation as they started off in. The working class were underpaid, heavily exploited at the workplace, forced into physical labour in harmful and hazardous work environments and were made to work extremely hard and overtime, ensuring industrial goals were met. Today, almost 200 years later we can still witness how most of these ill practices continue to exist in the industrial sector in spite of the numerous interventions made by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and other global bodies on the Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.
We continue to witness how front line workers still struggle to access a quality life, earn a satisfactory living, find a safe work environment as well as find a stable and secure job. We simply cannot ignore this in our time right now! We need to take inspiration from the Papal Encyclical ‘Rerum Novarum’ (Of Revolutionary Change) written by Pope Leo XIII way back in 1891. Though we will celebrate the 130th Anniversary in the month of May, we need to practice some of its principles which still hold strong and important even today. As Pope Leo XIII rightly points out that the Government has a crucial role to play and so does the Law and the Employer. But without a doubt every christian as well as the church has a crucial role to play in fixing the poor condition of the working class in our society and the world at large. More over right now amid the 2nd or 3rd wave of the Corona Virus pandemic we have seen countless sights of the daily wage workers struggling to find their way back home in countries across the world especially in Asia and suffer from homelessness and hunger due to unemployment and mass layoffs in many Industries. It is very urgent for us to seek out, take action and care for the working class people by ensuring that they receive adequate food supplies, transport facilities, as well as medical aid during these unfortunate times. We also need to immediately set up systems which can support these circumstances if they ever arise again.
On the contrary we also witnessed that the Wealthy 1% grew even more rich amid the ongoing pandemic while the rest have been downtrodden and burdened with low incomes and debt. This needs to be fixed as one cannot continue to be selfish and withhold resources when employees working under the same rich employer is burdened with debt. Thus ALL Forum Invites our readers to reflect on the many struggles of the Working Class and in our own ways to support those in need with deliberate action and care.