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Working Full Time Or Reducing Full Time Work: How Employers Exploit their Workers and Take Away their Gains

2015-12-22

The historic increases in productivity, only partially related to automation, has resulted in imposed poverty instead of distributed benefits partially related to automation.  Productivity improvements have resulted in the production of a larger quantity and better quality of finished goods with less labor.  Instead of distributing productivity improvements by shortening worker’s hours and keeping the same number of workers, owners have kept the hours the same and reduced the number of workers, creating unemployment instead of prosperity, and hijacking the worker’s gains.

The important issue is one of distribution of productivity improvements.  If the improvements in productivity were distributed in the form of shorter hours spent producing the same or better product, then the workers would benefit by the time saved.  Instead, the employer receives all the benefit when the workers’ hours are kept the same and the number of workers needed to produce the same amount of product is reduced.

The attraction of using each worker to the maximum extent of which they are capable is obvious to the employer.  The workers are kept working as much as possible and paid the same, while more product is realized.  Otherwise they might start thinking too much during their rest periods.  The workers who are dismissed become poorer and resent their former employer but there is nothing they can do (except commit workplace violence, which occasionally happens.)  This is inequitable and exploitative.

There are indications that productivity improvements have not been reflected in increased pay or other compensation since 1973.

 

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