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Collective bargaining, between democratically organised trade unions and the enterprise's management, remains the "single channel" for individual workers to counteract the employer's abuse of power when it dismisses staff or fix the terms of work.
Many workmen could not subsist a week, few could subsist a month, and scarce any a year without employment.
In the long run the workman may be as necessary to his master as his master is to him; but the necessity is not so immediate." Labour law in its modern form is primarily a creation of the last three decades of the 20th century.
The Factory Acts dating from 1803 required minimum standards on hours and conditions of working children.
But people were also attempting to organise more formally.
To combat social exclusion, employers must positively accommodate the needs of disabled people.
Part-time staff, agency workers, and people on fixed-term contracts are treated generally equally compared to full-time or permanent staff.
In some enterprises, such as universities, This happens through a steadily increasing number of work councils, which usually must be requested by staff.
However, the UK remains behind European standards in requiring all employees to have a vote for their company's board of directors, alongside private sector shareholders, or government authorities in the public sector.
Under the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 strikes are basically lawful if they are "in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute".
As well as having rights for fair treatment, the Equality Act 2010 requires that people are treated equally, unless there is a good justification, based on their gender, race, sexual orientation, beliefs and age.
The masters, being fewer in number, can combine much more easily; and the law, besides, authorises, or at least does not prohibit their combinations, while it prohibits those of the workmen.