Study of labour is a confluence of labour unions, the relationship between workers and employers, and labour rights. Labour laws allow employees to engage in meaningful activities that would cater to their well-being and interests. The labour movements have always shaped international politics since workplace in under a dynamic flux. Under this circumstance, workers need to try multiple times at maintaining pace with changing market structures to maintain the status quo. Workers have collectively engaged in protecting their rights against institutional malpractices and injustices.
Since workers have historically remained prone to exploitation and abuse, they have assembled to fight against discriminations, low wages, improper or no compensations, and inhuman work hours. International politics have upheld policies towards empowering, shielding and assimilating workers. Politically, without the existence of labour unions, it is almost unfeasible to pan out workers’ progress or assure their rewards. The shrinking of the union’s strength has diluted the standard of living of the middle class, although it has not stopped the proliferation of corporate organizations. Scholars have also traced a link between labour union and economy of a country, the two being mutually beneficial to each other.
National Labor Union 1866- this comprised of both skilled and unskilled worker who demanded an eight-hour work schedule. It provided the impetus to Congress to draft new labour reforms and laws that would lessen the burden of work. Although it failed in an objective and dissolved in 1873, the movement made a mark in history. Additionally, the labour movement spread knowledge and information regarding workers’ interests and fetched widespread support for the cause of labour rights. Moreover, it amassed collective strength to improve working conditions via legislative actions.
Knights of Labor launched in the 1880s- it is regarded as the most prominent labour rights movement that took place in the U.S. between 1869-1996, it aimed to subvert the coercive capitalistic society. It took under its kaleidoscopic view, interests of farmers and shopkeepers alike for union’s goals and objectives. It called forth many strikes during the movement’s heyday. It sought to add new policies that would bag significant economic benefits for the workers- high graded as well as low skilled workers.
In the U.S, although the influence of labour unions has dwindled over time, labour laws continue to protect and represent their interests. Nonetheless, it has been observed that labour politics have charisma. Legislation in ancient American society was meant to be compatible with the workplace structure prevalent during the era. The internal market had aligned jobs rigidly that made the possibility of climbing the growth ladder difficult. The laws were designed, keeping into consideration the long-term relationship between employee and organization. The bonus and packages were structured in the same fashion as well. In 1935, the Supreme Court ruled against the unconstitutional fixation of compensation for women workers.
In the famous Atkins v. Children’s Hospital case, the act of setting off a maximum hour law was against the law of the land. These regulations aimed to eliminate the unfair infringement of labours’ rights. Democratically, labour unions are desirable since it gives the worker a fair playing ground for workers to voice their opinions while framing new policies. Citizens of many countries have been benefited by legislations that the trade unions have helped to pass. Many legislations have also been impacted. In 1947, Congress tried to take away the measured protection guaranteed by the Wagner Act and launching the Labor Management Relations Act. The Taft-Hartley Act that prohibits strikes and nullified workers’ unions. It also restricted unions from engaging in political activities of the U.S.
NLRA seeks to offer maximum protection to those workers who fit into the standard definition of an ‘employee” as put forward by the statute. However, hierarchies have been labelled out, and contractual labourers are deemed as independent contractor irrespective of their status of regular employees. Consequently, they are deprived of laws that govern workers’ interests. The dynamics of labour laws within private firms have also weakened over time, and job security has suffered a tremendous blow. With the change in government, the new policies revolve around human capital rather than looking after their welfare. Unlike the old days, the new policies tend to make the maximum utilization of workers’ intellectual and cognitive contribution towards the production and on behalf of the organization.
In Germany, the concept of the employment contract has received omnipotence without which the relationship between employee and organization becomes null. The labour market has witnessed a boom and unemployment has been reduced by almost half. The German government has little or no role to play in negotiating workers’ wages. Trade unions, councils, and employee associations operating at various levels are responsible for carrying out in meticulous ways demands of workers. Workers are always assured of benefits under the union contract. German labour unions movements have doubled up productivity and helped the country adopt new technological innovations.
In modern times, the unions are recuperating from The Great Depression and WWII that forbade the formation of labour. It resulted in a thorough deterioration of the number of members participating in associations. Corruption and leniency have destroyed the system.
Within the framework of international and national politics, it has been predicted that labour unions will continue to lose their dominance over laws. The jurisdiction will narrow individual rights through waiving off benefits and introducing inferior standards. On the other hand, it has also been predicted that the regulations would endure a radical shift that would create a massive impact on international politics. Historically, workers have always exerted pressure on politicians to uphold and necessitate new laws in favour of workers.
In the politics of contemporary times, statutory labour laws have come into place with the gradual decline of workers’ union. It will hardly be an exaggeration to conclude that workers' rights and welfare policies have been set at a low level.
Feb 21, 2020