# [OPE-L]How much value does unproductive labour add?

Alan Freeman (a.freeman@greenwich.ac.uk)
Sun, 01 Feb 1998 19:12:25 +0000

I'd like to focus on specific points in each post: here the following from
Juriaan's post of Sun, 25 Jan 1998 15:02:53

"if you assert waged labour of any kind is a part of constant capital, then
labour so defined functions quite unlike any other, since it has no
value-creating capacity."

Juriaan responded:

"Correct. This is the meaning of unproductive labour."

"For example, its contribution to the value of the product is not defined
by the time it works, but by the cost of its food and other necessities:
its wage-cost."

Juriaan responded:

"I don't see why this is the case. Unproductive labour is itself paid just
as productive labour is according to hours worked, it is just that no
addition to surplus-value results in the former case, while in the latter
case surplus-value does result."

I now respond:

Suppose a worker is paid #1000. Consider two options for writing the
accounts:

Option 1: treat the worker as unproductive.
Option 2: treat the worker as productive

You say that when treated as productive, the worker does create surplus
value. Suppose this surplus value is #500. In that case, when treated as
productive, the worker adds #1500 to the product, and when treated as
unproductive, the worker adds #1000 to the product, since by your own
statement, 'no addition to surplus value results in the former case, while
in the latter case surplus-value does result.'

But in either case, the worker is working for the same length of time and
consumes the same food and other necessities. Therefore,

(a) under option 1 'the contribution to the value of the product is not
defined by the time it works, but by the cost of the food and necessities.'
For, if the contribution to value anything except #1000, there would be
some surplus value.

(b) Under option 2, the contribution to the value of the product cannot be
given by this cost since it creates surplus value and so must be different.

(c) If under option 2 the contribution to value is given by labour-time,
then under option 1 it cannot be, otherwise the two contributions to value
would be the same.

Cheers
Alan