Labour standards are rules and standards enforced by the government, the goal being to create a safe and clean working environment. These standards also seek to protect workers' rights to free association, collective bargaining and freedom from discrimination as well.[1]

A union, also known as a trade union or labour union, is an organization whose purpose is to provide a united voice for workers. A union tries to act upon and express the concerns of workers.[2]

For example, workers may be unsatisfied with wages. That is when a union steps in and tries to resolve the problem.


At first, liberalism mainly benefited leaders of businesses. Liberalism also helped the working class. However, workers were still unsatisfied due to their lack of participation in this growth of liberty and wealth. The labour standards were produced by government and entrepreneurs, and the workers wanted in as well. It was not fair for others to decide what was in their best
The Hospital Employees’ Union on strike to resist neoliberal privatization. Not all strikes are due to wages or hours.
interests and what was not.[3]

In the late 19th century, labourers began creating unions. Workers would begin to strike if satisfactory hours and wages were not met.

The International Labour Organization was formed in 1919.

In 1948, two articles on labour were created by the United Nations in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Article 23

1. Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.

2. Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.

3. Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worth of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of sociall protection.

4. Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

Article 24

Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.[4]

Perspectives and Criticism

The Workers' Party adopted the communist symbol of the hammer and the sickle, promoting a socialist movement.

Many members of unions, and unions themselves follow a fairly socialist approach to the economy, such as the Workers' Party. It was claimed by the organization that capitalism was a danger to workers. Capitalists were accused of attacking and trying to reduce workers' living standards and destroying trade unions. [5]

Others advocate capitalism, saying that unions do not provide better living standards as capitalism has. This side argues that capitalism is the reason why individuals have shorter work hours and better wages. An pro-capitalism article explains, "The steady rise in living standards in (predominantly) capitalist countries is due to the benefits of private capital investment, entrepreneurship, technological advance, and a better educated workforce... Labor unions routinely take credit for all of this while pursuing policies which impede the very institutions of capitalism that are the cause of their own prosperity." [6]

Milton Friedman, a nobel prize winning economist, supportive of capitalism, said that unionization actually produces higher wages at the cost of fewer jobs and if industries did not have unionization, then wages would decline.[7]

Classical Liberalism

The introduction of labour standards and unions also caused the concept of equality to expand. Workers strived to be equals to their employers and other leader figures of society. People began to think that it was necessary for liberalism to have equal opportunity and equal respect for all members of society.[8]


1. Fielding et al. (2009). Perspectives on Ideology. 154-156.
2. Fielding et al. (2009). Perspectives on Ideology. 154-156.
3. Fielding et al. (2009). Perspectives on Ideology. 154-156.
4. United Nations. (1948). The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
5. Workers' Party. (n.d.) Workers' Party Resolutions on Labour Unions.
6. DiLorenzo, Thomas J. (2004). How Capitalism Saved America: The Untold History of our Country.
7. Friedman, Milton (2007). Price Theory. ([New ed.], 3rd printing ed.). New Brunswick, NJ
8. Fielding et al. (2009). Perspectives on Ideology. 154-156.