Working long hours is killing hundreds of thousands of workers - mainly middle-aged or older workers - a year in a trend made worse by the Covid 19 pandemic (WHO 18/5/21). Capitalism kills.
In the first global study of the loss of life associated with longer working hours (what Marx called the extent of exploitation), the paper in the journal ENVIRONMENT INTERNATIONAL showed that 745,000 people died from stroke and heart disease associated with long working hours in 2016.
That was an increase of nearly 30 per cent from 2000.
According to Maria Neira, director of the WHO's Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health: "Working 55 hours or more per week is serious health hazard". It was reported that in the City some workers were working up to 80 hours a week.
Overall, the study - drawing on data from 194 countries - said that working 55 hours or more a week is associated with a 35 per cent higher risk of stroke and a 17 per cent higher risk of dying from ischemic heart disease compared with a 35-40-hour working week.
And the GUARDIAN reported that a Japanese worker was found dead in her Tokyo apartment with heart failure. She had logged 159 hours and 37 minutes of overtime at work in the month before her death (20 September 2019). Tokyo is the most "overworked" city out of 40 international cities but, paradoxically, is the least productive country in the G7. The Swiss Bank UBS found Mumbai, India's largest City, clocking up 3,315 per year per worker, the longest average working hours in the world.
Such is the risks to workers associated with employment. Workers are forced onto the labour market to sell their commodity labour power or ability to work. They are forced onto the labour market because the capitalist class own the means of production as private property. Employers buy labour power to work with raw resources and machinery to produce commodities for sale for a profit.
Workers spend part of their time at work producing for themselves and their families. That is necessary labour time. The rest of the time they are working for the capitalist. This is surplus labour time, in which they are contributing to the total pool of surplus value.
The ratio of surplus labour time to necessary labour time is the measure of the rate of exploitation. The capitalist class want to increase profits by increasing the intensity and extent of exploitation.
If it leaves workers with shorter lives, that is the price they pay for being employees, wage slaves to a social system that only cares about profit and capital accumulation.
This need not be the case. There is an alternative. And that is socialism: the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production and distribution by all of society.
In socialism there will be no labour market, no buying and selling of labour power and no employers and employees. Workers will work socially, cooperatively and voluntarily. Workers in socialism will produce useful goods and services to directly meet human need. Workers will not be worked to death.
Object and Declaration of Principles
The establishment of a system of society based upon the common ownership and democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth by and in the interest of the whole community.
Declaration of Principles
THE SOCIALIST PARTY OF GREAT BRITAIN HOLDS:
1. That society as at present constituted is based upon the ownership of the means of living (ie land, factories, railways, etc.) by the capitalist or master class, and the consequent enslavement of the working class, by whose labour alone wealth is produced.
2. That in society, therefore, there is an antagonism of interests, manifesting itself as a class struggle, between those who possess but do not produce and those who produce but do not possess.
3.That this antagonism can be abolished only by the emancipation of the working class from the domination of the master class, by the conversion into common property of society of the means of production and distribution, and their democratic control by the whole people.
4. That as in the order of social evolution the working class is the last class to achieve its freedom, the emancipation of the working class will involve the emancipation of all mankind without distinction of race or sex.
5. That this emancipation must be the work of the working class itself.
6. That as the machinery of government, including the armed forces of the nation, exists only to conserve the monopoly by the capitalist class of the wealth taken from the workers, the working class must organise consciously and politically for the conquest of the powers of government, national and local, in order that this machinery, including these forces, may be converted from an instrument of oppression into the agent of emancipation and the overthrow of privilege, aristocratic and plutocratic.
7. That as all political parties are but the expression of class interests, and as the interest of the working class is diametrically opposed to the interests of all sections of the master class, the party seeking working class emancipation must be hostile to every other party.
8. The Socialist Party of Great Britain, therefore, enters the field of political action determined to wage war against all other political parties, whether alleged labour or avowedly capitalist, and calls upon the members of the working class of this country to muster under its banner to the end that a speedy termination may be wrought to the system which deprives them of the fruits of their labour, and that poverty may give place to comfort, privilege to equality, and slavery to freedom.