We explain to you what the workforce is and how this concept arises. Difference between work and workforce. Examples
What is the workforce?
The mental and physical capacity of any human being to carry out a given task is called the work force. It is a concept coined by Karl Marx in his doctrine, developed in his work Capital, first published in 1867.
Marx stated in his theory of value-work that the value of a good or service is determined by the amount of work or effort required to produce it, and not by the utility that this good can offer to its consumer or owner . In this way, special merchandise whose processing is particularly difficult, will have much more value than the others.
From there, the value of the labor force in a given society will be the sum of the value (that is, the work necessary to produce them) of the goods that make up the basic basket. (average) consumption of the working or working class.
The workforce would be part, thus, together with the raw material and tools (means of production), of the productive processes of society, that is, of those in which it It also provides the goods and services it needs. In exchange for such productive capacity, the working class is rewarded with a salary, which constitutes the nucleus of the exploitation of man by man.
See also: Marxism.
Since the work force is the human capacity to perform a job, the instruments of that force will be the tools necessary to carry it out, the specialized knowledge (technical or procedural), and the means of production (the factory, the machinery, etc.).
However, for the workforce to exist, it must be free of means of production and its remuneration must be the only means of support; This means that the workforce of a nation at a given time will be the number of workers willing to work and in need of employment to meet the demands of their family.
The work force of a society is divided into two: the qualified and the unskilled, according to the level of experience and instruction that the workers possess.
- The unskilled labor force is one that has not received any training (technical or procedural), that is, it does not have the knowledge yet to perform a job. This means that your hiring should provide them with such knowledge.
- The skilled workforce is, on the other hand, that which has the experience or knowledge to carry out immediate work and therefore aspires to better salary remuneration.
Differences between work and workforce
The workforce and the work done are two different things. The latter is the concrete aspect, the materialization, of the potential work that the workforce contemplates. That is, it is the consequence of applying the workforce to a task .
This distinction is key, according to Marx and Engels, to understand in political economy concepts such as surplus value and profit, key in the mechanism of exploitation of the working class. On the other hand, economists of the time preferred to think about work based on the cost of training the worker himself, what they called the cost of production of the labor force.
With this distinction, Marx affirms that the worker sells his labor power to the capitalist, not his work, thus distinguishing the labor process from the valorization process. The key in it is that in a working day a worker does more work in the production of the merchandise than it costs to reproduce the value of his work force.
Put more easily: a worker produces for the capitalist more than he and his family need to survive. That surplus is the surplus value, the profit of the factory owner, for which he will not pay the worker (he will pay him only for his labor force).
An example to understand this concept is the following. Suppose a textile worker is looking for a job, selling his labor force . A capitalist hires him to produce clothing whose cost of production is 100 dollars, in exchange for a salary of 50 dollars.
In this scenario, the capitalist is not paying him for the cost of production of each dress, but for his labor force, estimated at half. However, for each garment that the textile worker produces and the capitalist sells, he will obtain the cost of the worker's salary and an additional 50% of surplus value.
Hence, the labor force can also be understood as a commodity that the worker sells to the owner of the textile factory.