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Workers' Rights

Understanding the Importance of Rights at the Workplace

Rights are inalienable privileges which a person possesses by virtue of being a human being. They are entitlements which everyone must have to enable them live qualitative lives devoid of harassment. Rights guarantee that dignity is not a preserve of just a few powerful people. Nobody, no matter how ordinary he may be, deserves to have his rights taken from him or encroached upon by another individual.

An action whereby a person willfully infringes the rights of another person is a violation of the law which entitles the wronged party to litigate or seek redress. He can do this with the help of a lawyer at a competent court of justice. Fortunately, rights now exist in virtually every area of human endeavour. Rights of children in the family, of people on the streets, and of workers, in the workplace.

Farm workers, just like people in every other profession, face the risk of having their rights abused by employers. The relationship created by the authoritative position implies that there is a high chance of superimposition, even where unfair, of a particular desire. It is a risk that can probably not be purged easily from any setting. People will always try to flex their innate tendency to dominate. But it can be reduced. Even restrained. There are laws in place that establish a regulatory framework for employee-employer relations. They exist to protect people against unlawful and unfair acts that may arise from this relationship.

In a farming environment, there are numerous ways by which a person’s rights can be violated. These depend on the role that the worker plays on the farm, that is his niche. A violation of rights can come in the form of a non-provision of protective equipment to the worker. The person may be forced to work in conditions that are not suitable for human health and general well-being. It could also emerge in form of sexual harassment. A superior or co-worker might solicit sexual intimacy from a fellow staff member. Sexual intimacy here refers to inappropriate touches, comments or an outright expression of offending demands. These things can have negative impacts on the mental health of the harassed worker.

The employee may find it hard to function properly at the workplace, may be denied access to certain entitlements by the rejected boss, may become a target of unfair treatment and even worse, might get death threats. The employee may therefore be forced to quit or hang on at the risk of being exposed to further abuse.

This is considered unwholesome. It is strongly condemned and must be discouraged by every means possible. This is why employees must gain a deep understanding of what rights they have by working in a certain place. If they do not understand that something being done to them is unacceptable, they will find it difficult to appeal for redress. Even as we proceed on a journey of change and innovation, people must also come around to understand the basics of co-existence in our ever-evolving world. It is on this basis that we offer legally-oriented advice to whoever may need it.

© 2020 AFRN