We celebrated Labour Day (Fête du Travail) last week to mark the contributions of workers. There is a universal reason to celebrate the day as work is an intrinsic part of our life; we work to live.
Work provides us with an identity in society. We personally feel engaged and useful as active players in the economy. We are slaves to work. We sell our labour to meet the necessities of life. We always try to do our best, and invest our time and energy in the work we do. It is common to see workers in a hurry to reach sites of work or office on time, often brave the inclement weather to be present at work. Our employers know our obligations and weak points. They are, a priori, businessmen looking for ROI, i.e. return on investment, and they try to get the most from their workers and maximise their profits. Unions play a primordial role in safeguarding the interests of workers and keep a check on exploitation. History bears testimony to their important role in fighting for the cause of workers. We also celebrate Labour Day to pay homage to the stalwart union leaders.
We are compensated for the work we do. The compensation is generally money and in addition there may be certain benefits like commuting allowances, clothing, contribution for pensions. The compensation is the single element that gives rise to more tension between employees and employers than any other issue. It is crucial for workers to get a decent pay (the minimum pay has been set statutorily at Rs. 9000) to be able to provide for food, clothing, shelter, ensure well-being and also be able to support dependents who are not able to work.
However, the weaker economic condition of workers vis-a-vis their employers means that they therefore cannot bargain on an equal footing. They are forced, in many instances, to accept low wages rather than go without employment. We celebrate this day to mark the continued sustained effort of the activist workers in the fight towards a minimum pay, equal pay for equal work and check on the exploitation of workers.
But unions cannot sit on their laurels. With the upsurging Gig economy there are more and more workers who are employed on contractual, assignment or temporary basis. The terms and conditions of employment are different; the need to keep an eye on the way these are administered is strongly felt so that there is no breach of workplace, safety or compensation laws.
Labour Day is not only an opportunity for making (political) speeches but more importantly for workers to think about their fate, the upcoming challenges (that their rights are not dismantled, that work is maintained in enterprises) and resolve to work effectively and be more productive as recent productivity indices have not shown favourable growth. Put plainly in the words of Robin Sharma, “Regardless of what you do (as worker) within your organisation the single most important fact is that you should always play to your peak abilities” to expect a reasonable return.
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MH370 will be found
The beautiful and scenic island of Mauritius is globally known for its strategic location. Over the past 40 years two mysterious air crashes with 500 lives lost thrusted Mauritius into the spotlight. The crash of The Heidelberg from South Africa and Flight MH 370 from Malaysia.
Debris from MH 370 was found on the Mauritian coast line, and it is highly possible that more debris came ashore, but was never discovered. Sadly the search for MH 370 came to an end in 2017, and a new search began in early 2018.
The greatest aviation mystery continues to baffle the world. Numerous interim reports by the Malaysia Ministry of Transportation offer no explanation on the fate of this tragic flight.
It is a known fact that many Boeing 777 aircraft suffered from potential weakness in the fuselage section, which was identified by the Federal Aviation Administration [FAA] four months before the disappearance of MH 370, which also was a Boeing 777. The directive warned of a potential weak spot, which could lead to the ‘loss of structural integrity of the aircraft’. This could lead to a situation where the fuselage was compromised leading to rapid decompression.
The plane was 14 years old with approximately 14,000 total flight cycles. On 42 other 777s that were between 6 and 16 years old local corrosion was found. A FAA directive issued during November 2013 called for checks into the worldwide 777 Boeing fleet.
In 2005, a 777 operated by Malaysia Airlines suffered problems with its autopilot systems on a flight between Perth and Kuala Lumpur. This led the FAA to issue an airworthiness directive to correct a computer fault that had been found on 500 Boeing 777s It is possible that a slow decompression from a small hole, could have gradually impaired and confused the pilots before cabin pressure warnings were sounded. This scenario also explains why another pilot some distance ahead heard mumbling and static sound from the MH 370 pilots when he tried to contact them. This probably indicates an oxygen problem.
Time is a crucial factor in this tragedy. Between 1.07 and 1.37, hell broke loose on this flight. The interim reports discard possible battery fire. Lithium – ion batteries have caused 140 mid-air incidents in the last 20 years. One cargo plane crashed in 2010 after attempting an emergency landing. The safety report said the battery caught fire and filled the flight deck with smoke. Could a slow moving fire from a tyre on the front landing gear ignited on take-off?
A self-extinguishing fire probably overcame the crew and passengers of Mh370, which allowed the plane to fly on auto pilot for 5 hours. A self-sustaining fire would have broken up the aircraft. Earlier model 777s were plagued with electrical problems, one 777 was completely gutted while on the ground, at Cairo International Airport. The truth will emerge when MH370 is found, let there be no doubt, and this plane will be found. There are over 1000 Boeing 777s flying the global route. We found The Titanic, we found Air France Flight 447, and we will find MH370 within the next year.
* Published in print edition on 11 May 2018