17 December 2018 20:52

Ideological hegemony

With fulfilling the requirements of one’s own class interests being a right for capital, workers’ demands as befits humans is branded 'treason'.

Photograph: Elyxandro Cegarra/AA

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One significant advantage that neoliberal policies have bestowed on the bourgeoisie pertains to the subject matter of collective labour agreements. With their traditional content consisting as a rule of provisions regulating workers’ rights and interests, provisions aimed at enhancing enterprise productivity and competitive strength now also find inclusion in collective labour agreements.

With the unemployment engendered by flexible and insecure working exerting greater pressure in crisis periods, this also increases the power and inclination of employers to force unions into concessionary negotiations. With indifference shown over workers’ failure to reap their share of economic growth, it is deemed a “national duty” for them to make sacrifices at times of downturn.

The ideological hegemony that deems the bourgeoisie’s class interests to be the “national interest” also burdens the working class with the responsibility of protecting it. With fulfilling the requirements of one’s own class interests being a right for capital, workers’ demands to live, work and be paid as befits humans is branded “treason.”

While fighting for rights that are enshrined in the law is made to appear a crime, there is an endeavour to prevent workers from uniting around their class interests and acquired rights from assuming the status of social demands.

In these days of ongoing minimum wage negotiations, the point has been reached at which “A wage to live like humans” posters are seized on the grounds that they “disturb the public order.”

In other words, the employer sits down at the negotiating table under conditions in which the public order as a whole is equated with its own class interests and with means through which this is ensured.

As such:

The minimum wage, the sole source of support for millions of workers and worker’s families is debated in the context of the employer’s investment goals and competitive strength, rather than the needs consistent with a life that befits human honour.

The crisis conditions that destroy workers’ purchasing and subsistence power are used to justify a low rise and not a meaningful level of remuneration.

Certain decreases in inflation unrelated to basic consumption expenditure are made into an argument for keeping down the minimum wage.