Monkeys go on strike after being paid unfairly for same work

Monkeys have revolted in an unequal pay dispute after researchers tried to mimic human workplaces.

When carrying out the same work for the same reward experimenters found the two primates were dutiful to their boss.

But as soon as they were paid unequally for the same task they started to lash out – in what scientists say is similar to the natural human response to workplace injustice.

The two capuchin monkeys were placed together in neighbouring cages so they could see what the other was doing, in the experiment carried out by Dutch primatologist Frans de Waal.

They are both asked to complete a simple task and upon completion are given some cucumber.

De Waal, who is based at based at Emory University, Atlanta, found if both monkeys are given some cucumber then "they're perfectly willing to do this 25 times in a row."

Yet, much like in office politics, things suddenly turn sour when one animal is unfairly rewarded with more than the other.

When one monkey sees the other being rewarded with a grape for doing the same task he revolts by becoming enraged and rejecting the cucumber.

He even chucks it back at the researcher and begins to slap the floor in protest at not receiving a fair chunk of the fruits of his labour.

In an extraordinary TEDtalk, de Waal said: "So this is basically the Wall Street protest that you see here."

The Dutch expert concludes that the experiment proves monkeys, can understand the once thought to be only human concept of equality and justice.

De Waal admits he still has more work to do to convinced everyone about the monkey's intelligence.

He said: "One philosopher even wrote us that it was impossible that monkeys had a sense of fairness because fairness was invented during the French Revolution."

However the researcher is convinced the little monkeys react for the reason humans get upset over unfairness.

And the strike was not a one off and gets even more interesting when Great Apes are employed.

De Waal says his colleague Sarah Brosnan, repeated experiment with chimps and it is common for those primates who see their mate not being given their fair share to reject their grape until they are both given equal pay.

De Waal believes injustice for primates, just like for humans, is a natural and deeply felt reaction to unfair treatment.

Monkeys are often used to replicate human reactions in psychological lab experiments, with the US Government spending nearly $100 million on monkey brain experiments in recent decades.

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