The 10 major groups of the proletariat

1. “Inactive” workers
[6 688 000]
2. “Out of law” workers
[187 000]
3. Laborers and day laborers
[961 000]
4. Operators and specialized workers
[1 229 000]
5. Executing workforce
[4 403 00]
6. Public services employees
[866 000]
7. Skilled workers in public services
[40 000]
8. Skilled workers in construction
[647 000]
9. Skilled workers in production
[673 000]
10. Technicians in production and public services
[3 202 00]
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The following class analysis is subsequent to the one that was first presented in the first paper edition of ISKRA, it deals with what we call “the 10 major groups” that constitute the Canadian proletariat as whole. This analysis helps to identify commonalities as well as differences that characterize the activity of all the Canadian workers. Forming a genuine class, the proletariat must be studied, delimited, dissected, understood and revealed in a scientific manner.

The notion of major groups makes it possible to have a better understanding of the proletariat both in its diversity and in its unity. Although the workers who make up these large groups have different functions, tasks, working and living conditions, it remains that they are all connected together: they participate in the same social work process that makes up society as we know it. Each of the 10 major groups of the proletariat carries out a separate segment of this labor process. The concept of major groups therefore makes it possible to grasp this one process in its entirety and to dissect it in order to understand how it works. In short, this notion encompasses the amount of work done in Canada and makes it possible to understand the exploitation of the proletariat from all angles. Understanding this social process demonstrates that, despite their differences, the ten major groups form a single large social class which shares a common interest: the seizure of power and the building of socialism.

There are 25,6 millions of proletarians in Canada, or 67,3% of the 38 millions that live here. Out of this total population, only 28,6 millions people aged 15 and over are considered to be “active”, all social classes combined. By “active”, it is understood that they are people either in employment or actively looking for a job. Of this number, there are 18,8 millions active proletarians who are dispersed in hundreds of different jobs in the territory. These 18,8 millions active proletarians plus the 6,6 millions inactive proletarians aged 15 and over, make up what we call the 10 major groups of the proletariat. These large groups therefore represent all workers of Canada who daily extract, transform, manufacture, assemble, build, store, transport and sell all of the wealth contained in society.

1. “Inactive” workers [6 688 000]

Inactive proletarians are not present on the labor market. This group includes proletarian pensioners, proletarian housewives, all the unemployed aged 15 and over who depend on a proletarian household, and also all the social welfare recipients. Although they do not participate actively in the labor process, they form an important and necessary component of the proletariat. The retirees who left the labor process after having participated in it all their lives form a good part of this group (3 143 00). In a household, a member may be inactive to take care of the children, the disabled, the sick or the aged. As for social welfare recipients, several of them are not functional enough to be economically profitable (for capitalists) under capitalism in order to obtain a salary. Whether through the payment of retirement pensions, the sharing of a salary or the payment of “social welfare”, this group receives in order to survive, part of the value created by the proletariat. This sharing is necessary to support the whole proletariat with its retirees, its families, its incapacitated people, etc.

2. “Out of law” workers [187 000]

“Out of law” proletarians are workers who do not have access to minimum labor standards. There are undeclared workers, paid in many cases below the minimum wage. This work paid under the table can be done at home, in services rendered such as distribution and landscaped maintenance, or in “official” workplaces such as garages or warehouses, which often hire a mixed workforce made up of “legal” workers and “outside the law” workers. Among this large group are also workers that are without status, who are neither unemployed nor on social assistance and who do not appear in official statistics. Although performing tasks which are also carried out “legally” by the proletarians of other large groups, the proletarians “outside the law” are to be distinguished from the others because of the conditions in which they work. The existence of this large group testifies to the ease with which capitalism disregards minimum labor standards; it recalls the historic struggle for the improvement of the living and working conditions of the proletariat as a whole, a struggle still going on today.

3. Laborers and day laborers [961 000]

Laborers and day laborers are proletarians with no special training working in production. This group includes handlers, warehouse clerks, longshoremen, production workers and farm workers. This workforce is present at all junctions in production, from extraction to transportation, through manufacturing and warehousing. It operates a simple realization, often by moving the goods, by harvesting with bare hands or by preparing the material which will be transformed and assembled in production. A significant part of the movement of goods is carried out at arm’s length or using pallet trucks. Also included in this group are workers using forklifts and other mechanical devices that save storage space. Moving merchandise often makes up the bulk of labor for laborers and day laborers. It is sometimes accompanied by tours of the various workstations to lighten the workload of other workers. Their task may also consist of preparatory work to speed up production.

4. Operators and specialized workers [1 229 000]

Operators and specialized workers are proletarians working in production who are confined to a single task, who operate a machine from morning to night, or who occupy a specialized position on an assembly line. In general, they have no special training other than mastering the operating machine. This large group is present in mining, processing and manufacturing. There are machine operators working in industries such as metallurgy, chemicals, pulp and paper, textiles, plastics, packaging and even food production. Also, skilled workers sometimes devote themselves to assembly on various assembly lines, ranging from the manufacture of electronic equipment to the manufacture of automobiles. Others have specialized tasks such as controlling and verifying the quality of a finished product after an operation or an assembly line. Overall, this large group is the one that is most directly linked to machines, these collective means of production allowing tenfold productivity. In this, the operators and the specialized worker already represent a material basis for the realization of socialism.

5. Executing workforce [4 403 00]

The term executing here refers to the fact that these proletarians carry out what they are told to do during their shift. Members of this group are present in catering, sales, commerce, housekeeping, hotels, transportation, storage, etc. They are, for example, clerks in stores, grocery stores, pharmacies and other businesses. Much of the work performed by work line workers is related to the cyclical flow of goods from the production sphere. This group includes cashiers, salespeople, tablet stockers, pump attendants, telephone operators, sales representatives, and all sales and customer service support staff. Execution work also takes the form of “private” services. These often require a certain qualification, as in the case of hairdressers and beauticians. Some perform other types of tasks, such as doormen, maids, waitresses, plungers, office clerks, etc.

6. Public services employees [866 000]

Public services employees are the proletarians working in the public system (hospitals, accommodation centers, day centers, public transport, state apparatus, etc.) as well as in the main public utilities (Hydro-Québec, Energize, etc.). Although these workers are engaged in execution work, their reality is different from that of other execution workers, both in terms of working conditions and in terms of union organization. This large group includes workers in health care establishments such as attendants, nursing assistants, maintenance staff, kitchen workers, etc. It also includes enforcement workers in schools and early childhood centers such as janitors, cooks, assistants, etc. They can also include park wardens, National park employees, marshalling yard employees, garbage collecting and snow plowing, receptionists, administrative officers and many other public service employees.

7. Skilled workers in public services [40 000]

Skilled workers in public services have a special qualification in addition to holding a job that requires physical strength and dexterity. They are manual workers who have a job that can be linked to another large group that of the skilled workers such as production or construction. What sets them apart is that they are simply present in the public service. Consequently, they benefit from working conditions that are often better than skilled workers working in the same field, but in the private sector (salary scales, job security and security, pension plans, holidays and paid holidays, fixed hours, etc.). Most often, they work in the maintenance and repair of roads, aqueducts, water treatment centers, public swimming pools, municipal recreation centers, health and social services centers, long-term care accommodation, hospitals, school boards, public schools, parks, etc. They also participate in the establishment of new public utilities, as do, for example, line workers for the transport of electricity.

8. Skilled workers in construction [647 000]

Skilled workers in construction are the proletarians who erect buildings and infrastructures thanks to a skill that is called a trade or an occupation. Each of these trades requires training in a trade school and further training through practical and extended work experience. Skilled construction workers construct residential, commercial and industrial buildings, in addition to carrying out civil engineering projects. Bricklayers, carpenters, scrap dealers, crane operators, electricians, plumbers, plasterers, roofers, and more are part of this group. They build the places where the proletariat lives and reproduces its labor power. They also build the places where goods are produced and sold, as well as the roads and railways on which they are transported, in addition to the places where public and private services are housed. Skilled construction workers have been involved in many battles in the history of Canada, just as they have been active in organizing.

9. Skilled workers in production [673 000]

Whether in the extraction, manufacturing, processing or assembly sectors, there are a large number of machines, motors and devices of all kinds requiring superior know-how than specialized workers to be programmed, operated, permanently maintained and punctually repaired. The skilled workers in production are trades workers like machinists, present in various industrial fields (cars, aircraft, plastic, etc.), or sheet metal workers and boilermakers in the metallurgical industry. A good part of the skilled workers in production are also mechanics, electro-mechanics, welders and tool and die makers who take care of the installation and the proper functioning of the means of production. These workers take care of assembly line mechanisms in factories, refrigeration systems in warehouses, and other industrial equipment. This large group also includes skilled workers involved in the transportation and movement of goods, as are drivers and repairers of heavy equipment, locomotives and semi-trailers.

10. Technicians in production and public services [3 202 00]

A technician is a proletarian whose main function is the application of a technique or a set of techniques from various sciences. These techniques may include using industrial and engineering processes, administering care, using medical equipment, or using software and computer networks. Technicians are present in the sectors of natural and applied sciences (mostly related to production), health (dental hygienists, nurses, respiratory therapists, paramedics, etc.) and social, educational and legal services (elementary and high school teachers, early childhood educators, special educators, paralegals, etc.). Although they have a college education, and sometimes even a university education, they remain salaried workers who do not have their own means of production and do not have a managerial role in the labor process. In production, technicians are often under the direction of engineers. This last major group represents the last segment of the social division of labor, the last function in the production process.