Marx’s Economic Manuscripts of 1861-63
2) Absolute Surplus Value by Karl Marx

c) Advantage of Overwork

Volume 30, MECW, p. 185

Let us assume that the average necessary labour time = 10 hours, and that the normal surplus labour = 2 hours, hence the total daily labour time of the worker = 12 hours. Now assume that the capitalist sets the worker to work for 13 hours a day during 6 days of the week, hence 1 hour over the normal or average surplus labour time. These 6 hours amount to 1/2 working day in the week. Now one has to take into consideration more than this surplus value of 6 hours. In order to appropriate 6 hours of surplus labour, the capitalist would under normal conditions have had to employ 1 worker for 3 days or 3 workers for one day, i. e. he would have had to pay for 30 (3 10) hours of necessary labour time. With this daily extra hour of surplus labour he obtains half a day of surplus labour a week, without having to pay for the 3 days of necessary labour time he would have had to pay for under normal conditions, so as to appropriate the 6 hours of surplus labour. In the first case a surplus value of only 20%; in the second, one of 30%; but the last 10% of surplus value do not cost him any necessary labour time.