Collectivism and higher principles
We must give it to the labour of our heroes past and that workers have been moved out of the Ricardian world and given recognition and dignity. What would have been the state of affairs for workers today but for doggedness of legendary Michael Imoudu in the Nigerian Railways, Adebola, Wahab Goodluck, Dr. Tunji Otegbeye, Hassan Sunmonu, Kokori and my friend, Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole, and several others in the vanguard? What would have been the state of our universities today, unflattering as it even is, but for the sacrifices of ASUU? It is in this context that the vigilance of Ayuba Wabba, the helmsman of Labour in these times is to be understood. It is in this context that the strike by the university teachers can be seen and the commitment of Prof. Ogunyemi and his colleagues applauded.
There was a time university teachers were almost not able to fuel their cars. At the time they were accused of teaching what they were not paid to teach. Today, the political leaders are living in obscene opulence, the executives at practically no costs to them. The
Nigerian Senators are the highest paid in the world. How is that sustainable?
What Ayuba and his comrades seem to be suggesting with the agitation for a rise in the minimum wage is that there is nothing wrong with the status quo, Labour only want their own share of the largesse. Michelle Obama was saying the other day in conversation with Oprah Winfrey on her just published book, Becoming, that President Obama got the bill every month for everything, for every dish; “they count the number of peanuts and you get the bill for it at the end of the month. You pay for your guests and the food they eat…You get the bill.”
As I did say last week, in the world of David Ricardo, the worker is paid only what he needs to sustain him to work the following day. Nothing is left to meet personal responsibilities and leisure. The concern of the employer is work and more work. To strike a balance between what the worker offered and what the employer paid, trade unionism arose to strengthen the bargaining power of the rank and file. It was reckoned, and still is, that the weak and the vulnerable would thereby be protected. However, from experiences of the aftermath of every struggle, the gains turn out to be illusions. The worker comes out worse. And he is made to go again in search of elusive victories by declaring yet another strike. Sometimes the job disappears from his hand because, to pay the new scale and continue in business, the employer prunes down the workforce and raises the price of the product the worker needs. What then is to be done in view of the fact that the inner worth of an average employer changes at no faster a rate than the changes in the earth’s crust? The employer is not going to yield without pressure. Yet, the worker is in need of protection for fair wages.
As there is no standstill in life because is driven by motion, every action will necessarily call for a deep reflection in the experiences of each day. Are there no other ways, for example, to strike a balance in the relationship between the employer and the worker? How are things to continue in these times, in the new Age which has opened before us which anyone who is attentive can perceive and hear? Is a practice necessarily right because it has gone on for decades or centuries? In the free world, strike is a weapon workers guard jealously, so is the principle of collective bargaining. Dr.Ozo-Eson, Labour Congress general secretary has asked all labour unions to standby while Wabba is spitting fire following feelers and pronouncements from the governors that they do not have resources to pay the N30, 000.00 minimum wage. They are only comfortable with N22, 500.00 and if push comes to shove, 24,500.00.
The minimum wage is national in operation; hence it is called National Minimum Wage. The Labour is assuming that all states regardless of their current resources, both from the Federal allocation and internally generated revenue (IGR) is in a position to pay. After all the current N18, 000 minimum applies throughout the country. Besides, all governors and commissioners are paid the same wages themselves. Workers also pay the same price for premium spirit (petrol) even though energy cost is cushioned through equalization fund which makes it possible for a motorist in Akwa Ibiom or Bayelsa to buy fuel at the price as the motorist in Zamfara or Yobe State. All these, without doubt, negate the principle of federalism, thus strengthening the agitation for restructuring, from which Labour has been aloof. The phrase collective bargaining itself connotes centralization! This is why before the country is plunged into confusion and incalculable mess, we must all invite ourselves into deep reflection and ask, all things considered, are strikes right and if right what of the timing?
In the developed world, especially in Western Europe, unionism is real and has become an acceptable power, confirming the right of any worker to withdraw his service if he considers a working condition unfavorable. Because of its universality, the conception and underlying assumptions of strikes are no longer subjected to scrutiny. Because it has been accepted as a veritable power in the Western world developing countries have enthusiastically embraced it. But a strike has far reaching consequences well intentioned as it may be. Consider for example, when doctors go on strike, there is premature discharge of patients. Some die and many have their agonies prolonged and hopes postponed or shattered.
Besides, strikes damage and worsen the economy leading to more strikes. Strikes can keep investors away and deny the worker of more jobs and better offers, delimit the production of more goods and offer respite from rising prices. Union leaders, however, do not see issues of strikes this way. Yet, trade unionism and the concomitant collective bargaining, as attractive as they may appear as a weapon to safeguard the interest of employees, indeed give false hopes and worsen their plight. This is because unionism operates from the premise that such a body should exist to fight for workers. In the private sector, workers are misled to believe that all profit is loot. With collective bargaining, individuals are robbed of their own ability to press for their needs and entitlements.
Collectivism ignores the point that there can be no equalization in the affairs of men for as long as they have free will and exercise it as each person pleases. In some cases, employers sometimes unconsciously sense the necessity for individual bargaining strength and therefore at the point of entry, emoluments are negotiated with each employee.
Collective bargaining also sets out from the premise that there is an injustice that must be redressed, and in the process brings about a relative uniform level of living standards. This ignores the fact that men cannot have equal opportunities, but rather only equal offer of opportunities. This is simply on account of free will, the exercise of which determines each person’s fate and his placement in life now or in the future when the fruits of his activities freely embarked upon ripen for harvesting. Collective bargaining also ignores the fact that workers cannot produce the same amount of work. If there is inequality in productivity, it should follow that there will be inequality in reward. There will be greater incentive for the one who works harder. In other words, it is important to note that what Labour is pressing for is minimum wage, it is not asking for minimum productivity. That is beyond its control!
In the present action we have on our hands in the country, it is not only the government that is being pressurized to raise the minimum wage; it extends to the private sector as well which has been battered since recession set in and to which the government is likely to turn ultimately, for increase in company tax to be able to meet its obligations to workers. Apart from fuelling inflation, agitation for pay rise on a collective basis also discountenances the risks that entrepreneurship entails and when the investor/employer loses, his loss is not shared by his employees. It is little realized that an employer deserves praise for providing opportunities for workers to meet their material needs so they can be free for the pursuit of higher values—the real purport of life. It is hardly realized that the industrialist has to make provision for replacement of equipment, improvement in equipment and for his own family and needs and that when profit is made it is only a fraction of it that goes to the investor. The remainder is ploughed back into the business for expansion or recycled into the economy either through direct investment or through banks where it is available to go out as loans to revitalize the economy still.
I have gone this far to show that on both sides there is need for the recognition of the consequences of imbalance in our lives, worker or the employee and that we cannot be too careful. After all is said and done, it will be discovered that the pursuit of unions and how they go about this, as well as the attitude of the employer must be subject to the principles of life that only what is right serves aright. And this can only be decided by how they align with the true principles and mechanisms which govern life. An employer, whether in the public service or private sector, who maltreats his employees, sets his own snares and his dominion, in accordance with the Laws of Creation, cannot endure. It must in the end collapse even where it shows all the promises of flourish at its peak of business. Similarly a worker who receives pay for work not done will have brought imbalance about in his own life. He may inexplicably be exited, or the imbalance results in poor pay that falls below inflation. The employer also looks frantically for new technology to reduce the establishment in human labour in particular.
In most part of the developed world, pay rise is worked into calculation of the possible rate of inflation. In this way whatever increases a worker may receive will not be waylaid by department or grocery stores. There is no noise making.
Creation is one whole and it is governed by immutable and incorruptible Higher Order. There are several planes of existence apart from our earth. We should learn from activities going on in these planes so that the entire Creation can swing in a harmonious whole. Our earth is the last outpost of Creation which the Lord Christ called His Father’s House, and the planes, Mansions! Although there are regions below the earth, they were never intended by the Creator. They are nether regions more commonly known as the Dark Region with its characteristic hellish conditions, hence it is called Hell. The nether regions are created by human beings through unworthy activities, thoughts and speeches. Above from the summit of material world, planes beyond the perception of our physical senses, beautiful regions of Light exist stretching into Paradise. Paradise is protected by what is called Animistic Belt—the homes and origins of animistic beings such as elves and gnomes that the ancient people called gods and goddesses, the awareness of their existence closed to the modern man; only children still see them. The Animistic Realm is also the home and origin of the souls of animals we are familiar with on earth.
In higher realms, all swing in love and harmony—everyone serving his fellowmen, his neighbor jubilantly, seeing only to what is of benefit to him and which gives him joy. Our world is supposed to be a replica of such beautiful worlds, and that is our principal task as human beings on earth, that is, to establish the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. And so do we long and pray, “Let Thine Kingdom Come. Thy Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” Disruptions to national life, corporate lives and private lives must necessarily be deviations from the pursuit of that loftier goal and from the fulfillment of the vow that we human beings will establish a replica of the Kingdom of the Creator on earth. Disruptions bring harm to our fellow men. We thereby prove that we are untrue and unfaithful to our vows; we deceive not our Creator but ourselves. It is as serious as that.
How will it be if the Nature Beings whose activities through the mixing of molecules of hydrogen and oxygen and infusing them with their own radiations to produce clouds and water to go on strike? Will there be rains? How will it be if Nature Beings who prepare the air we breathe and make it pure all-day round, all-year round were to go on strike? How will it be if rains were withheld and there are no crops on the field and plants to provide herbs to heal our ailing bodies? How will it be if Nature Beings which prepare bodies for babies in women’s wombs were to go on strike? How will it be if Nature Beings were to refuse to build mountains and provide and nurture flowers for us to behold—the enthralling wondrous fields of Nature? What will it be if the Creator were to withdraw His Grace and Blessings which keep us alive and from which we draw our sustenance and prosperity? Every year, the Holy Spirit, the Creative Spirit of God, renews His Love to the entire Creation when He pours out Power, energizing the entire Creation. Grasses sprout, plants come out with blossoming new leaves and flowers bloom. Birds sing merrily. Plants bow. Men receive strength.
We should be well advised to familiarize ourselves with the immutable principles of life so that we do not come to harm. Old knowledge can no longer suffice for the world of today. This day and age require knowledge that is new, that is revealed. With it we will see many notions, many activities, and many time-honoured conceptions for ages regarded as right and unassailable crumbling before our eyes. They are after all wrong and mortally harmful.