Carvajal: Worker woes

THERE is never any question that the store clerk who stole from his employer, no matter the amount, has to be punished. The only question is what would be the appropriate punishment. And everybody seems to agree that hauling him off to court and making him post P2,000 bail was way over the top. It was unmitigated legal justice without benefit of any humane consideration for his situation.

But it was not just the store that punished the clerk but also media that covered the crime. Mainstream media that stew about giving a second chance to even the worst of drug addicts, pushers and killers could not give that chance to the clerk whose crime was to steal a bit of food to deaden the pangs of hunger.

Unwittingly maybe but by identifying him, they put his name on the blacklist of future employers, effectively plunging his chances of future employment to the bottom of the scale. For who would hire a confessed thief?

Yet, media did not identify the store by name. Wittingly maybe (for an actual or prospective ad placer?), they precluded a possible boycott of the store by those who didn’t like what it did to the clerk. They also shielded the store from the prying eyes of those who might want to probe if the owners were not stealing from their workers in the form of below legal minimum wages.

Workers of Vic Enterprises got better treatment from local media that rightly questioned Mayor Thomas Osmeña’s abrupt closure of Vic Enterprises’ outlets without considering its dire consequences on the displaced workers.

The mayor is known to delay demolition of the illegal structures of the urban poor until a proper relocation site is available. One wonders then why he is not allowing Vic Enterprises time to apply for a business permit and settle its past obligations if only to consider the welfare of the workers who had no part in the owner’s violation of city ordinances.

Then there’s the timing. People are supposed to be considerate of others all the time but especially on Christmas, the season of giving. Hence, it is hoped that the store owner and the mayor would change their minds, the mayor especially as he has other businesses targeted for immediate closure. I just don’t know how media can undo the severe damage to the store clerk’s second chance of future employment.

Many other workers are not having a merry Christmas because of tragedies that typhoons Urduja and Vinta visited on them. There are also the families of workers who perished in the NCCC mall fire in Davao City. The least we can do, if we can’t do more, is unequivocally join them in mourning their loss in the spirit of Christmas. It’s a crying shame that some actually bring their political biases to bear on these tragedies.
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