'WORK, REST and PAY'
British society is divided into classes. Membership of a class is determined by status, wealth or occupation.
Basically, we have the Ruling Class (the bourgeiosie) which is the class of the Property Owners. This class
contains the big landowners, owners of large manufacturing enterprises, commercial outlets and financial institutions that operate with the sole purpose of generating private profit. Put simply, this class 'owns the means of production, distribution and exchange'.
Then we have the class that owns none of these things - the propertyless class (the proletariat). Members of this class have only one thing to 'sell' - their ability to work ie their labour. Thus this group is known as the Working Class
But our society is also composed of strata within the class system - just like the different geological layers in rock formations.
The strata immediately below the Ruling Class is the Upper Middle Class which is composed of the very wealthy, and of judges, top members of the legal profession, and high-ranking officers of the 'Secret Service', military and the police. It also contains the owners of the news media (magazines, newspapers, radio and TV stations) and communication systems (postal and telephone). This strata defends the structure erected by the Ruling Class - the STATE - by inventing and passing laws in its favour that protect its wealth and its property. To enforce these laws, the Ruling Class has constructed a system of coercion - police, courts and prisons (and sometimes the military). The media perpetually promotes the interests of the bourgeiosie and scorns the efforts of workers to obtain fairer pay and working conditions - just observe the 'media treatment' currently being dished out to BA and railway workers (April 2010) and how The Law has been brought in to frustrate workers' industrial action.
The next layer, the Lower Middle Class, consists of small business owners, shop keepers, managers and professionals such as solicitors, estate agents, doctors, vets, dentists, teachers, etc. This group mainly (but not entirely) supports the beliefs and values of the bourgeoisie (capitalists) but lacks this strata's wealth and power hence this layer is known as the petit bourgeiosie (little capitalists).
The final layer is the Working Class and is the majority of the population. This class produces the products, builds the houses and roads, grows the food, drives the transport and maintains the energy, water and sewerage systems. Many of its children form the bulk of the lower ranks of the armed forces. This class only goes along with the Capitalist System whilst the system is able to provide most of its members with work and wages. However, the working conditions and rate of pay must be 'reasonable' and here lies the very foundation of the Class Struggle; a constant and irreconcilable contest between employers and workers.
Employers want to MAXIMISE THEIR PROFITS so wish workers to work for the longest hours for the least amount of pay whereas workers wish to MAXIMISE THEIR EARNINGS and wish to work the least hours for the greatest remuneration.
When workers are presented with terms that are intended to threaten their jobs (redundancies, closures) or worsen their working conditions (longer hours or compromising safety) or reduce their present 'spending power' (wage freeze or an actual wage cut) they attempt to negotiate with their employer to see if a compromise is possible. Individual workers are helpless in this situation for they cannot afford to seek the expert advice of specialists in employment law. But unions can.