Category Archives: Employment

Shall we carry on with Labour Day?

Today, known as “International Workers’ Day” or May Day”, is dedicated to workers’ achievements; it’s a public holiday in many countries, e.g. Australia and France. In the USA, Labour Day is on the first Monday of September. Demonstrations and campaigns for workers’ rights are part of the celebration.

In the 1980s-90s, in Australia, I participated in the annual Labour Day march in Brisbane. It wasn’t only the time for me to rest from my paid job but to show solidarity and appreciate the significant contributions of workers and the labour movement in improving working conditions. I can’t remember someone questioning me about its relevance or the media’s scrutiny of it being a public holiday. Lately, there have been remarks that it is just another excuse to stay home. How many organisations and individuals use this day to recognise and honour the labour movement’s contributions to securing workers’ rights, fair wages, and safe working conditions?

Have working conditions improved since its birth in 1886? It depends on where you are. Then, there’s the industry. “Technology is moving faster than companies can design and scale up their training programmes”, the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report ( discloses. According to this report, AI is a crucial employment disrupter; other factors include the green transition and geo-economic conditions.

​Generative AI will increase productivity and innovation in high-income countries​. In contrast, developing countries will continue to lag and experience increased unemployment. Demanded know-how will become even more critical​; hence, will there be equitable resourcing for skills development? It’s the old story again—the rich have the means to better themselves. Will Labour Day observances and marches impact the workplace undergoing employment shuffles due to technological changes?

​How attractive and useful are labour​ unions​ in our current digitalised world? Are their tactics and demands ​reasonable and justified? ​If we had to change ​”Labour Day​” to reflect our modern day, what would that be?​ (Labour force includes the employed and unemployed people who are working or willing to work​, while workforce consists of ​individuals who are engaged in some work and excludes those who are eager to work but ​can’t find ​or get work​).

Labour Day is a reminder of the ongoing struggles for social and economic justice — wherever you are and in whatever industry you’re in (high-tech or no tech)!

Quiet quitting and quiet firing aren’t the solutions

“I call it a day; see you tomorrow”.
“It’s only 5:30, Paul. Aren’t you waiting for a phone call from Ms Willers”?
“She said at five; it’s 5:30.”
In a soft voice, Rosie asked, “Are you a quiet quitter, Paul”?

Quiet quitting is one of the 2022 buzz phrases that have varied meanings. It can refer to doing what you are only paid for (i.e. what is stated in your job description) and not “going and beyond” in favour of work-life balance. It can include losing motivation due to work dissatisfaction. It can be a minimum performance as there’s no ambition for career advancement. It can be a strategy to get retrenched and be eligible for unemployment benefits. (In France, those who resign can only receive unemployment payments if the official employment committee approves their substantive career change plan).

Quiet quitting has attracted supporters from the proponents of better work-life balance, principally citing the prevention of burnout and mental illness. However, it can have adverse effects. It can cause disengagement and loss of pride in what you do. It can create a negative work atmosphere; imagine having colleagues who work less for the same salary as yours. Then, there’ll be a domino effect – others will practise quiet quitting too. Consequently, there’ll be less productivity, less clientele, less job, more competition, more pressure, and so on. There are occupations, such as in the medical field, when quiet quitting doesn’t work at all.

You can emotionally invest at work without sacrificing your personal life by maintaining healthy boundaries between them. There’s no need for quiet quitting. There must be open communication between company management and employees. Listening to the personnel’s views and opinions, regardless of their position in the organisation, is inclusion and respect, leading to a feeling of belongingness, loyalty, and productivity.

The opposite of quiet quitting is quiet firing. Quiet firing is when a management fashions work conditions that cause an employee to resign. These include non-invitation to staff meetings and functions, deprivation of promotion and salary increase, overloading with urgent work, and non-allocation of tasks. This is a non-confrontational approach to force employees to leave the company without disbursing severance pay. Like quiet quitting, it has its downsides; it builds a toxic work environment.

Our triumph should not be someone’s defeat or misery. However difficult the situation is, the best result is always obtained with the least conflict. Thus, we should go for a “win-win” rather than a “winner takes it all” mentality.

By the way, as promised in my previous blog, here are the things I have already prepared as Christmas presents — books, a hand-written and framed short story, and a photo album. Food hampers and fruit baskets are also on my list.