Laborems Exercens and the Illegal Termination of Pal Workers

The third chapter of Pope John Paul II’s 1981 encyclical Laborem Exercens, the pontiff talks about the conflict between labor and capital. The dispute between the two comes as a result of diverging interests. The goal of company heads has been and will always be to maximize profit. In maximizing profit, companies have to cut down manufacturing costs, and that includes minimizing production costs, and the cost of labor. On the other hand, laborers are human beings and want to be treated as such, and be given appropriate work conditions and salaries.

Pope John Paul II said that work is integral to the development of man, and because of this, human being should be treated properly and be given fair working conditions. Meanwhile, some capitalists have the tendency to take advantage of the vulnerability of man, and this sometimes results in the exploitation of labor. An example would be giving workers inhuman working conditions, inadequate salaries, etc. At the end of the day, according to Pope John Paul, the superiority of labor exceeds that of capital, as laborers are human who are deserving of respect and should be treated with dignity. Work is a way human can develop more fully, and this fact should supersede any other.

The second group in class reported on labor issues, and cited the incident between Philippine Airlines (PAL) and PALEA as an example. A few years back, PAL illegally laid off 183 PALEA union workers from their jobs. There was also an issue about retirement. PALEA then filed a lawsuit against the airline and after a hearing, the Court ruled on the side of the workers. As a result, PAL had to reinstate the workers and pay them their salaries.

Chapter 3 of Laborem Exercens is related to the PAL incident because of the issue of labor versus capital. PAL terminated the said employees because of a potentially dangerous financial situation the company was in. Thus, they illegally let go of their officers because they wanted to minimize loss. As...