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In organized labor, an employee who breaks a strike. That is, a scab does not go on strike with other employees but instead keeps working. A scab may do this out of concern for his/her livelihood, because he/she does not agree with the reasons for striking, or for some other reason. Because scabs are thought to reduce the effectiveness of a strike, the term is highly derogatory.
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Collins Dictionary of Business, 3rd ed. © 2002, 2005 C Pass, B Lowes, A Pendleton, L Chadwick, D O’Reilly and M Afferson
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The race and drafting-gate allowed a cost-effective mode of drafting-out sheep and the poorest stock, including scabbed sheep, were the first to go.(51) However, the decline in incidence seems to have begun earlier and boiling-down brought no obvious reduction in disease in Victoria.
In the 1840s, clean sheep' were worth at least 2/6d per head more than scabby ones' or even sheep suspected of being scabbed, a premium of some twenty-five per cent.