The number of strikes in the UK reached an all-time low last year, the lowest number of workers on strike since records began.
No doubt many will celebrate this as a sign that capital and labor are successful partners in the UK.
However, what it shows is that labor is weak and sees itself as unable to win any benefits through strikes.
The contrast of the present with the past is striking. in 2015, 170,000 days were lost to strikes. In 1979 there were 29.5 million days lost.
Employees perceive themselves as powerless to counter continuing impositions on them. Some companies require workers to meet management performance targets and are constantly monitored.
The domination of labor by capital has come about through the weakening of workers' power in the market place. Unions have been unable to bid up the price of labor. Indeed a recent Trades Union Congress report indicates that in the UK wages in the UK have fallen further since 2007 of all 28 OECD countries with the one exception of Greece.
The report shows that real earnings have dropped more than 10% since 2007. Data from a recent OECD employment outlook shows that from 2007 to 2015 real wages grew in Poland by 23 percent, in Germany by 14 per cent and in France by 11 percent. Average over the OECD countries was 6.7.
There are a number of reasons that UK unions have not been able to increase wages in the UK. One reason is that there have been increasing restrictions on the right to strike.
The new Trade Union Act was introduced by Conservative governments in the 1980s and 90s but Labour governments from 1997 to 2o10 failed to reverse the legislation.
An even more important factor is that unions are representing a declining portion of an expanding labor market. In the private sector union membership is only 14 percent and overall is just 25 percent.
The perceived weakness of unions makes recruiting new members difficult. Union members themselves fear loss of their jobs and the power of management against them should they try to assert themselves. There are exceptions such as some working on the railways but they are rare.
Jeremy Corbyn's plan to introduce statutory bargaining rights can help out workers, but workers must again realize that withdrawing their labor is still a key to ensuring that they gain better wages and benefits.
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Ken is a retired philosophy professor living in the boondocks of Manitoba, Canada, with his Filipina wife. He enjoys reading the news and writing articles. Politically Ken is on the far left of the political spectrum on many issues.