APRIL 29, 2013. By Katia Molina, Sociologist Head of Labour Area ICAL
“May 1st is a day in which the proletarian of the whole universe, when stopping the work, by this means express to the ruling capitalist class their protest and their complaint for the permanent exploitation… “
When commemorating the first of May it is necessary to remember both the little and large struggles that the workers carried out during the whole XXth century to dispute their rights and dignity. For this they had to learn that acting collectively is fundamental, and that organization is the path.
The so called “Social Question” that simply means pain and poverty, in the capitalist society had to be faced, to offer better days. It demanded seeing the problem of the workers from the complexity, incorporating the deficiencies in housing, health, education, social security, etc.
For workers nothing was granted freely, everything had to be conquered struggling. This way, it was demanded that these problems be incorporated as social challenges. From these demands converted into struggles arose the normative in the first decades of the last century that conclude with a Labour Code in 1931. One which is written keeping in mind the preeminence of the capital factor regarding the work factor, that is to say considering an asymmetric relationship between the employer and the worker.
Everything was erased by the dictatorship that was at the service of restructuring capitalism in the seventies, that created the juridical normative that persists until today, and whose center of society is the neoliberal ideology that is established as the only truth.
Nowadays we face a “New Social Question”, where poverty has a worker’s face. The reality of the labour world indicates that in each Chilean family there are at least two people working, what you can call an increment in the employment market. However this tendency represents a situation in that approximately a million workers earn the minimum wage and a high percentage of workers do so without social protection. These aspects produce in the people that constitute this army of employed, a sensation in that their life is constituted by what they consume with their revenues and their indebtedness, and not for the value that their work properly has in its own right. To this, must be added the weakness of the collective rights, the lack of trade union organizations, the distrust, and ultimately, the exacerbated individualism.
We want to reaffirm the centrality of labour in the production and material reproduction of the social life and of the constitution of human being. This idea is fundamental to think the structural transformations that the Chilean society needs, because it means to dream of a world where justice is part of and belongs to the wide majority of the men and women that inhabit this earth. It is to think a world in that we carry out our potentialities, where our singularity is at the service of the common dream and where work is essential.
 Luis Emilio Recabarren. “El despertar de los Trabajadores” Iquique 30 de Abril de 1912