Over on New Krypton, Kal-El (formerly Superman) is having trouble negotiating a peaceful resolution to a very dangerous hostage situation. Members of the planet's labor guild have taken Alura, commander of the Kandorian people, as well as several other prominent members of the Council hostage. Though General Zod, who is now Kal-El's superior in the military guild, ordered him to use force to dissolve the attack, Kal-El resolves to listen to the guild's demands. What are they? Simple enough: the workers demand shorter work days so that they can see their families and reduce the illnesses they had been suffering from being overworked, exhausted and malnourished. They are also demanding some form of health care, sick leave, and other social benefits common in Earth's workplace today.
Even New Krypton, a society that favors efficiency over equality and views Earthlings as "primitive" and "weak" for their emphasis on the converse, cannot suppress the rights of the individual. Perhaps had they studied a little Earth history, they might have noticed some historical parallels.
The eight-hour day movement in Europe was a time of dramatic transformations in work life, as adults during the Industrial Revolution typically worked anywhere from 12 to 16 hours a day, with little or no time to eat or rest. Factories were unregulated, so there was no one to ensure they met health or sanitation standards. Child exploitation was extremely popular as well. These variables helped spark not only the movement for an eight-hour day, but began to sew the roots of unionization.
Of course, there is an important distinction between this and New Krypton: Capitalism. Workers in the United Kingdom, France and the United States were typically working for private, unregulated employers and were earning wages to survive. New Krypton doesn't seem to work this way. Employers are certainly not private, there seems to be no such thing as "business" or "profit," and hence there is no competition among them. There are no markets. The Invisible Hand has no place on New Krypton. Further, the workers do not actually seem to earn any sort of wage -- it seems that each citizen is instead motivated by an innate sense of civic duty. In fact, the labor guild likely adheres to the social code for one or all of three reasons:
1) Civic duty or a utilitarianism
2) Deep sense of Kryptonian tradition
3) Self-interest: they work in exchange for the right to be citizens, to enjoy the planets public resources (the only one I can think of is pretty crystals), and to be protected by the military guild
Civic duty and tradition are powerful motivators. As an example, consider feudal Japan where vassals were almost instrically attached to serving their lords and would rather experience death before suffering the dishonor of disobeying it. Yet, it's not always enough. We can already see the seams falling apart on New Krypton with Kal-El's presence. Lower-class Kryptonians desire to be equal to that of the nobility. They want to see their families. They don't want to be sick. Nobles want to sit around while laborers tend the fields for sixteen hours. What to do? Assuming Alura grants them shorter hours and medical care, what do you suppose comes next?
That's right! Labor unions! Supposing that laborers work for different employers (scientists, etc.), certain labor forces are going to band together in order to collectively bargain with their superiors for more benefits and better working conditions, to prevent against discrimination, and to be involved with political activity of the state (such as having votes on the Council).
The other issue that concerns me is moral hazard. The medical scientists in the science guild need to take time and resources to heal the sick. If the workers get continual access to health care from the science guild, what is to stop them from abusing this? I think that eventually Alura and Zod will need to introduce some system of payment. And what comes next? Markets! Workers will have more access to health services, but they will have to shell out some serious ice crystals in order to get it.
The point is that it does not seem that New Krypton can continue suppressing the labor guild. And that's not a bad thing. Kal-El is champion of the workers. He's like FDR. Better yet, he's like Upton Sinclair, laying upon the masses his masterpiece, The Ice Crystal Fortress.