What is labour and why put aside a special day for commemorating it?

By Admin

In 1886, the US had the American Federation of Labour which named May 1 as the day when all workers should struggle for an eight-hour-day.

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By Kajabago-Ka-Rusoke
Labour is a physical and conscious activity which in history has been applied to harness tools with raw materials from a geographical environment in order to obtain food, shelter and dresses by and for beings which needed them for living.
To begin with, these beings were simple ones, but as they came across tools and began using them, regular practice from century to century turned their forelimbs into special organs of their bodies until they became erect, where in science they have been referred to as homo-erectus meaning standing upright.
This is because prior to the labour activity these beings were walking on four limbs. Because their forelimbs became special organs for handling tools and objects for use these forelimbs came to be known as hands and these beings being referred to as homo-habilis, meaning handy beings.
But as all these activities took place, they again had a great impact on the brain of these beings.
They gradually acquired a highly developed thinking power. Because they became thinking beings, they were referred to as homo-sapiens, meaning brainy and thinking beings.
Thus homo-habilis, homo-erectus and homo-sapiens, all put together, illustrate the role labour has played in history in creating the modern socio-economic beings, namely the hu-man and the hu-woman ones.
 Hence in 1882, Peter J. McGuire, in the US, founded the Carpenters' Union and proposed celebrating a Labour Day.  Later, a parade was held in New York City on the first Monday of September that year in honour of workers.
 In 1886, the US had the American Federation of Labour which named May 1 as the day when all workers should struggle for an eight-hour-day. This also became a labour holiday then.
 In 1887, the US state of Oregon declared first Monday of September a legal holiday for all workers.
 In 1889, there existed the international working men's Congress of France in Paris. This urged all workers worldwide to demonstrate in favour of an eight-hour working day on May 1, 1890.
 In 1894, 31 states in the US adopted first Monday of September as a legal holiday. In the same year, the US Congress made it a national holiday.
 Looking at production units from extractive, manufacture, distribution and exchange, it is obvious that all are conducted by labour. There is not a tool, machine or raw material in any production unit in the whole world that is not a product of labour, either of one who has already died or one still alive. 
All use values are symbols of concrete labour. Concrete labour is different from abstract labour. Abstract labour is just what one thinks should be done and how it should be done. But that thinker does not take part in physically doing or putting in place what he or she has proposed. 
There is no physical suffering on his or her part. This is where labour power comes in to differ from labour itself.
 For labour is like eating, but there must be digestion power. Labour power differs from real labour in the sense that it is the very inner ability in a labourer which enables him or her to create a use value of any description.
For it is the power that harnesses either tools or machines with raw materials to produce items for use or services. Mental labour by the owner of an enterprise is not necessarily embodied or incarnated in products which embody concrete labour from a physical labourer.
 Labour power comes from the type of food, house, dresses the labourer uses to live in such a way that can enable him or her to produce efficiently. It is also a commodity which is exchanged for a wage. All employers should, therefore, pay attention to the required welfare of all their workers.
 Workers will take care of all the machines, raw materials and buildings properly when they find friendly employers.
 There should be arrangements to cater for higher technical knowledge and education on the part of workers in order to improve on the quality of each and every economic unit either extractive or manufacturing. For the quality of the unit will depend on the technical quality of the worker on the machine.
 Workers should be exposed to political economy plus their relationship with the state apparatus and law. They should be encouraged to be socially conscious in order to pay attention spiritually to what is really necessary in society from their productive power in all economic units.
 For the above type of social consciousness to be put in place, it must be based on well-arranged retreats according to the academic grades of various workers who should go to institutions like the National Leadership Institute Kyankwanzi or seminars wherever suitable.
Seminars should also be arranged for investors for the sake of mutual national spiritual understanding concerning the nature of economy that may be put in place for the welfare of all the people.
 Let us pay attention to peasant labour. Go to each and every peasant farmer; organise them into collective groups according to the geographical nature of their regions. Provide them with modern tools for large-scale production, like tractors.  Sensitise them deeply about large-scale production, which must lead towards large-scale marketing through marketing co-operatives by themselves.
Hold lectures and seminars in villages in local languages emphasising the need for economic collectivism on which to build patriotism, avoiding mutual mistrust and antagonism.
 Abolish land rent from peasant farmers entirely.
 Establish a mixed economy of state sector by and through dedicated patriotic cadres, then cooperatives, plus private sector to fill in loopholes.
 Establish a strong alliance between wage-earners and farmers as a basis for patriotism in the economic base giving rise to a politically well-oriented political organisation for a pro-people state power in the hands of a pro-worker-farmer intelligentsia.
The writer is a Senior Presidential Adviser on Ideology