Thursday, April 22, 2010

the inevitable move from brawn to brain

there is a greater shortage of people ready and willing to do heavy duty manual work, unlike in the past, and as this work is generally done by those unable to hold other types of steady and knowledge intensive employment, the numbers ready and willing is decreasing at an alarming rate. Jobs such as tree climbing, such as for coconut plucking are at a premium and it is not unusual for them to be earning in the region of Rs50K per month, however even at this rate there are no takers, and it has been suggested like in Kerala that we train monkeys to pluck the coconuts for us.

We as a country are still not ready to use mechanical means. One only has to go to the Dambulla and other wholesale food centers to see the manual workers carrying heavy loads some in excess of 80kg such as in perforated bags of Pumpkin. It is now harder to find these people to lug them at the per piece rate of Rs40 that is charged, nor are there any trolleys or forklift related mechanical means to assist in this regard.

It is important that our organizers and planners of these establishments design means to reduce this manual task forthwith if we are to be able to operate these establishments with maximum efficiency.

This thinking man's blog is one to motivate the gray cells in our thinkers to these inevitable changes if we are better able to cope with advances in the movement of goods and services and also improve on the serious productivity weaknesses. I see that there is absolutely no planning in this area at all and we still assume this labor will be available forever. We should not as is always the case wait for a crisis to occur before we change our procedures.

In other countries there are workman's compensation laws for injury that are strictly enforced along with ILO regulations in this regard. As most of the work is done by small scale operators that are not even incorporated, it is difficult to enforce laws on individual owners of small businesses who themselves take these risks. We must not let these struggling businesses be burdened with injury, and take the initiative of providing the needed relief. We can also harness the services of international organizations like the ones mentioned earlier to assist in this regard in a practical sense in providing ergonomic products for injury threatening work.

The important point to note that in my many many years in the West I cannot think of one instance where these kinds of weights have been carried by individuals on their backs, and why we continue with practices that have been done away with in these countries in over 50 years. Why are we lagging so far behind? It is because non of the law makers has ever carried a heavy sack of anything, and probably never did a hard, let alone manual day's work in their lives and are therefor not concerned at all for the welfare of their fellow man who they pretend to represent.

If you truly represent them, then do something soon to alleviate their suffering and improve their livelihood. No wonder the people drink, as they need more than 'dutch' courage to life such heavy loads, or climb such high trees without a harness or back up.

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