(redirected from Workers)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Idioms, Encyclopedia.
Related to Workers: Workers Compensation insurance


An employee or one engaged in an activity that makes money. In left-wing circles, the word especially refers to employees who earn wages (as opposed to salaries) and/or those in blue collar professions.


a person employed by an organization to perform a JOB or work tasks either on a paid basis (as an employee) or on an unpaid basis (as, for example, a charity worker).

Traditionally, paid employees have been categorized into two groups of workers:

  1. manual workers, i.e. those working mainly with their hands. Although manual workers may be engaged in service occupations such as pavement sweeping, the dominant image of the manual worker is that of an employee engaged in production in a factory Often these workers are referred to as blue-collar workers because their physical working environment is such that (blue) overalls are necessary;
  2. non-manual workers, i.e. those who can be said to work with their heads rather than their hands, providing administrative services rather than directly creating material goods. As with manual workers, the term is somewhat artificial: some non-manual employees, typists for example, require considerable manual dexterity White-collar worker is an alternative term in common use, though it tends to be applied mainly to clerical rather than managerial or PROFESSIONAL employees. White-collar workers are so called because their apparently favourable working environment makes a light-coloured shirt or blouse practical work wear, and because smart clothing is often viewed as appropriate dress for work of this type and status. In sociology ‘black-coated worker’ has also been used to refer to clerical workers because a sober, dark jacket similarly has been seen as essential work wear.

Although these categorizations are somewhat imprecise in terms of the type of work performed, there is often a clear difference in the conditions of employment (see CONTRACT OF EMPLOYMENT) associated with each. Those workers classed as non-manual tend to have more favourable conditions (for example, better holiday entitlements) than manual workers (see STAFF STATUS).

The difference in working conditions between the two groups has been thought in the past to give rise to two distinct sets of attitudes. Manual workers were thought to subscribe to COLLECTIVISM and to a confrontational view of their relationship with their employer, whilst non-manual workers were thought to be more individualist (see INDIVIDUALISM) in their attitudes and to adopt a deferential approach to their managers. Though always an oversimplification, the picture has become more complex in recent years with the apparent spread of individualism amongst manual workers and the growth of highly repetitive, routinized clerical work, leading, some say to the ‘proletarianization of white-collar work.

Probably the most widespread popular image of the worker is that of a male employee employed in factory work. However, this image is now a long way out of step with reality. Only 25% of the UK labour force are now employed in manufacturing, with a corresponding growth in services in recent years. In addition, there has been a large increase in the number of women workers, with the result that nearly half of the employed force is female. In the UK, the employment of males in full-time manufacturing jobs has been steadily replaced by the employment of females in PART-TIME, service sector jobs. See DISCRIMINATION, ORIENTATION TO WORK, TEMPORARY WORK, WHITE-COLLAR UNION.

References in periodicals archive ?
This enormous megaphone of unchallenged opinion has partially succeeded in convincing Americans that without continued access to millions of foreign workers, America's economy will wither on the vine, and that the best way to stop illegal immigration is to pass guest-worker legislation.
Today's workplace is seeing a fundamental shift to a more diverse work force, including more mature workers.
Needless to say, injured workers faced a lengthy and uphill battle for recovery.
During the latter period radical black unions emerged, and large integrated unions responded by opening leadership posts to moderate blacks and developing training and apprenticeship programs that gave some black workers upward mobility.
This spring, his first book, The Disposable American, appeared, expanding on his series, describing how massive layoffs hurt individual workers, their families, their companies and their communities.
Keywords: male blue-collar workers, gender role expectation, masculinity, socioeconomic status, health determinants
This July, on the very anniversary of the AFL-CIO's birth, three of its largest unions--Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the Teamsters and the United Food Commercial Workers (UFCW)--decided to break away from the AFL-CIO, taking their 5 million members on a new path toward labor revitalization.
So Noble did what dissatisfied workers have done for decades to try to improve their wages and working conditions: He attempted to form a labor union.
Less-skilled immigrant workers arrived, and the company began a long-standing policy of hiring African-Americans in certain positions.
PARTICIPANTS: Workers at the landfill during May 2001 and those at the bridge site during August 2003 participated in the study.
In the most dramatic episodes, the egg sneak finds herself surrounded by a posse of vigilante workers.
TORONTO -- The Ministry of Community and Social Services is conducting a five-year review of the Social Work and Social Service Work Act, 1998 to identify and address implementation problems, if any, resulting from the provisions of the Act since the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers was first established in 1999.

Full browser ?