Ken Coates & Tony Topham

As two of the founders of the Institute for Workers’ Control (IWC), with Michael Barratt Brown, Ken Coates and Tony Topham were key influences on the development of the labour movement and politics during the period of raised worker militancy in the UK in the 1960s through to its decline in the 1980s.  Part of a generation of socialists who distanced themselves from the Communist Party both were signatories of The May Day Manifesto, a defining document of the ‘new left’ in Britain. Both maintained precarious relations with the Labour Party although Coates was also closely allied to Ernest Mandel and his wing of the Trotskyist movement while Topham was drawn towards Tito’s Yugoslavia with early publication (along with Fred Singleton) on its self-management system. read more »

The Frontier of Control: a study in British workshop politics - Carter L. Goodrich

In his classic work, The Frontier of Control, Carter L. Goodrich examined the workplace organisation amongst miners and others workers, as well as the growing syndicalism in the unions and the guild socialist movement, in the UK in the turbulent period of 1919-1920.  In this he identified the site of struggle around the frontier between management prerogative - or 'complete executive control' - and full workers' control. read more »

OWNERSHIP AND CONTROL

The movement for workers’ control in the 1970s was among the most promising of the many roads not taken in the forgotten history of the left.

 

 

 

The Institute for Workers’ Control

In the year 2003, Ken Coates collected together and had published a number of articles which he had written in the 1960s and 70s on industrial democracy and entitled the book, Workers Control Another World is Possible. He obtained contributions from the newly elected leaders of two of the largest unions, Derek Simpson of the Engineers Union and Tony Woodley of the Transport & General Workers, together with supporting introductory messages from five other unions, the journalists, the firemen, the communications workers, the bakers, and public and commercial services unions.

The Way Forward to Workers' Control

The whole question of workers' control is once again becoming an important issue in the British Labour Movement. In some ways, the situation today is analogous to that before the First World War. Expansion of Industry, coupled with inflation, in the years up to 1914, provided the basis for aggressive union action and the growth of ideas concerning workers' control, culminating in a historic pamphlet, the 'Miners Next Step'. It provided the impetus for the growth of the Shop Steward Movement, which arose during the war years itself. read more »

Letter from Ernest Mandel to Ken Coates (September 1969)

This important letter from Ernest Mandel to Ken Coates addresses two seperate questions. Firstly Coates, along with Tony Topham and other activists in the Institute for Workers Control (IWC), were working with the Shop Stewards Action Committee at GEC/EE in Liverpool planning an occupation to resist redundancies at the plant. The letter offers some observations by Mandel on the issues involved in occupation, the potential for continuing manufacture, as well as running 'an iscolated plant under workers' control'. read more »