Productivity soars; wages creep upwards
Updated: 21 May 2008, 23:02
Originally written: 27 February 2005
According to Statistics Canada, from an article in the Times Colonist:
- The median, inflation-adjusted wage increased less than two percent in 23 years.
- The average workers’ output per hour worked — labour productivity — increased by more than 30 percent.
- The number of temporary workers has increased from 11, to 21 percent of paid employees.
- Union membership among new employees is half that of 1981. Whether or not you are fond of unions, it is another indication of increased job insecurity.
- The number of “self-employed” workers has risen to over 15 percent of Canadian workers. According to Statistics Canada, the average wage for “self-employed” workers is lower than for paid employees.
- Jobs paying $30 or more: increased from 8.5 percent to 11.4 percent since 1981.
- Jobs paying $25 or more (includes those above): increased by almost 3 percent since the late 1990s.
- Jobs paying $15 to $25: down by 6 percent since the late 1990s.
- Jobs paying less than $15: increased 4 percent since the late 1990s.
- Jobs in retailing, restaurants, and hotels, paying less than $10, show strong growth.
On the facing page, there was a story entitled “Corporate operating profits set record in 2004, StatsCan finds.” Profits were up 18.8 percent, to $204.5 billion, compared to 2003.
Is it wrong for corporate profits to race ahead of wages? No! It is right, according to the morality that most people accept today. The capitalists own what we produce, so they are entitled to any profits.
What possible justification could there be for workers to expect any of the profits? We do not own the goods being sold for a profit. Why should we be entitled to the profits?
Well, you might, if you were a socialist, understand that profit is created by workers. But then we gave up what we produced, in exchange for a wage. So we are out of luck. If you were a socialist, you would understand that we sell our ability to work (our labour power) at its market value. Unfortunately for us, that market value is less than the value of our labour. That is where the profit comes in.
As long as the working class accepts these inherent features of capitalism, all we can do is complain. But complaining does not solve any problems. It never has, and it never will. Only action, based upon understanding, solves problems.
Perhaps you think the picture painted by the Statistics Canada information is factual and describes a situation which is “unfair” to workers. The only possible fix is to build socialism, because all that is wrong with capitalism is that it works the way it must.
If you think that the rich should share some of their wealth, capitalism is for you. Your perspective is shared by many, and the result of your obsequiousness is shown by Statistics Canada’s reports. Do you think something will magically change the way capitalism works?