The traditional concept of a ‘job’ for life with a particular company or organisation has been changing in the world of work and human resource management. For example:
• UBER which connects people who need transport with people who provide transport without the intervention of a taxi company, has revolutionised the ‘job’ of ‘taxi drivers’ without reducing the opportunity for paid work or employment in transporting people.
• Call services or transcription services or financial services, etc, are transforming the traditional nature of office or clerical or secretarial or marketing jobs and the employment relationships between the service provider and the employer.
• Engineering services are being provided by professional engineering firms and consultants which redound to the benefit of traditional employers by availing ready, state-of-the-art technology as and when required ‘off-the-shelf’ as it were.
• Similarly, professional human resource management and staff development services can be provided by HRM consultants who are au courant with the latest development in the field in the same way that law firms provide up-to-date legal advice and services as and when required.
The sugar industry, for example, owns scores of tractors and employs numerous tractor operators, many of whom are ‘idle’ for more time than they actually transport canes and other materials; why can’t the industry ‘outsource’ the cane transportation so that the rice farmers in the respective areas whose expensive tractors are idle for considerable periods of time can be involved in cane transport to the mutual benefit of both the sugar estate and rice farmers. Current tractor operators can also buy their own tractors and work for themselves, the estate and even rice farmers. (The sugar estates have already beneficially outsourced labour and sugar transport!). Similarly, the same people who plough the rice fields can be offered work, not jobs, to plough the cane fields and, who knows, we might eventually be able to also adapt the cane harvesting and rice harvesting machines to improve their versatility and transferability to the benefit of all involved. The estates can reduce much overheads and get better, more economical services by utilising, for example, the mechanical shops in the surrounding communities to service all the estates’ machines which will redound to the cost-benefit of the estates as well as the communities; similarly, the security services can be outsourced for the mutual benefit of the estates and the private security companies and we can go on and on!
Furthermore, we need to put the concept and title of “general agricultural workers” into practice not just in name! The potential and prospects for year-round beneficial, profitable work for all are indeed exciting providing we are not hung-up on ‘custom and practice’ which has been a bane of the sugar industry. We desperately need to think out of the box!