reserve army of labour


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reserve army of labour

unemployed workers, their number continuously renewed within capitalism, who by competing for jobs help to depress wages. In Marxism, the existence of this group is held to tend to force wages down to subsistence levels. Marxists, however, acknowledge that, in practice, a tendency to immiseration from this source is offset by a number of counteracting tendencies, including trade union action, which have increased the ‘historical and moral’ element in the value of labour power. Nevertheless, that unemployment remains a factor in the bargaining power possessed by labour, is seen in the correlation that exists between periods of full employment and wage increases and wage inflation.
References in periodicals archive ?
Capitalism's permanent "reserve army of labour," the unemployed, have to get by on even less, as do the sick, the disabled, and the children of the poor, who are at the forefront of the Tory Government's war on "the Welfare State."
As Morris notes this is a key factor behind why many end up in low-paid, low-skilled jobs or become part of a 'reserve army of labour' in and out of precarious jobs often on zero-hour contracts.
One way of ensuring that there is no debauchment in the value of money is to have an adequate reserve army of labour which ensures that money wages do not increase autonomously.
Jamil Jonna suggest in a recent issue of Monthly Review, Marx's way of seeing class formation was much ahead of his time, anticipating how modern imperialism and the relentless march of capital accumulation on a world scale would result in the quantitative expansion and qualitative transformation of the global reserve army of labour. This massive reserve, from which capital draws much sustenance for its accumulative appetite, now numbers in the billions.
The role of the reserve army of labour regulates the level of wages and therefore the level of effective demand.
In the main, women are employed as cheap labour, easily dispensable, still seen as a reserve army of labour often employed on temporary contracts or part-time, relief workers.
The dilemma is, paradoxically, located in the coexistence of a significant and socially mobile middle class of Indian professionals and business people who have been able to hold their own despite the racially discriminatory New Economic Policy (NEP) implemented in the early 1970s and the majority of Tamil proletariat whose position as a reserve army of labour living in poverty has remained unchanged, relatively speaking, since they first arrived to work in the estates.
Turning from the realm of consumption to that of production, commentators of a radical bent would use the term social exclusion to indicate the social redundancy of large sections of the poor who no longer even function as a reserve army of labour. Again, I'm sceptical of this usage as evidence suggests that many of the current poor are functioning as an effective reserve army, not in production but largely in service industries, constantly churning between being 'unemployed', 'not in the labour force' and in precarious or contingent employment.
Not surprisingly, women (as a group) despite their advancement in the field of education and profession, still implicitly inhabit the space of the "reserve army of labour," precisely because of the primacy attached to the discourse of motherhood and domesticity.
In doing so, she indicates the numerous problems with Braverman's thesis about women as a reserve army of labour used by gender-blind employers to replace men and their higher wages.
Either way, the capitalists would be deprived of the reserve army of labour, so important to strike-breaking and maintaining low wages.
Along came almost $16 billion in orders for the industry in January, compared with $8 billion in December, but the lost 10,000 were still to report for their tour of duty in the reserve army of labour. The February slump guaranteed a long tour, with many never to return.

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