Labor Day is an occasion to recognize how much society, government, industry, technology depend on labor as efficient cause of progress and development. Through work man cultivates the earth. Through work man perfects the earth through more and more highly improved machinery. Through work man enriches fellowmen. Unfortunately, in the Philippines those who are in the labor force are oftentimes deprived of the just share of the fruits of their work. The value of work is not derived simply from the material of work but from man himself. The dignity of work comes from man and his right to work. Ang dignidad ng trabaho ay galing sa nagtatrabaho.
Capital, which is controlled by capitalists, is the “historical heritage,” or product itself of human work. Developed through science and technology, capital is an instrumental cause of production. Capital represents the material and financial resources that are employed for further production. In any event there is no production without the application of human resources on material resources, on capital. In the PCP II the “priority of labor over capital” is recognized (318).
What then is the relationship between labor and capital, or more concretely between the worker and the capitalist? More than a century ago, Pope Leo XIII gave the classic statement of principle: “Capital cannot stand without labor, nor can labor stand without capital” (Rerum Novarum,109). Labor and capital depend on each other. Their relationship should be one of interdependence and complementariness, if they are to effectively serve the integral welfare of society. Economic progress is the joint work of both capital and labor. It would be unjust for either labor or capital to arrogate unto itself the contribution of both. This is stated by the “Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church.”
In the past, such as during the Industrial Revolution, and in our time through some extreme ideologies and totalitarian regimes, circumstances have led to the conflict between capital and labor. The relationship of conflict, competition and antagonism has proven disadvantageous to both and most especially to the poor. The victim of the conflict between labor and capital is likewise the economy. The principle of collaboration instead of class struggle must be the fundamental means for social change. The church stands on record that in any social question “the rights of the weak, the dignity of the poor and the obligation of the rich, the perfecting of justice through charity” must always be taken into account in the just ordering of society.
Pope John Paul II in his Encyclical Letter Centessimus Annus affirmed “that serious social problems, (whether in economy or politics, in the relationship of capital and labor) could be solved only by cooperation between all forces” (CA 60). Labor Day, MAYO UNO, can be a happy occasion for labor and capital/government to express to each other how much they need each other and what they can give to each other for the good of the country.
+Angel N. Lagdameo
Archbishop of Jaro
April 30, 2006