Alan Tuckman

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 »

Occupation, worker co-operatives and the struggle for power: Britain in the 1970s

The essence of occupation as a form of industrial action is that it inherently challenges the basis of private property under capitalism, that workers appropriate the means of production.  However these expressions involve the abandonment of the means of production by labour. The temporary occupation of the workplace immediately raises the issue of the commodification of labour in the form of ‘job rights’ of the worker investment of their labour as “a momentary of the disposal by the capitalist”. Even when they occur individually or in small number,  occupation often requires a renegotiation of relations with the dominant economy as worker cooperative or nationalised enterprise - be it with the demand of being ‘under worker control’ - as their conclusion.   

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 »

The Lucas Plan

In 1976, facing rationalisation and redundancies, shop stewards at Lucas Aerospace approached the Tony Benn then Secretary of State for Industry in the UK Labour Government to discuss their future in the context of Labour’s plans for the nationalisation of the aerospace industry.  Benn, a high profile supporter of the Institute for Workers’ Control, suggested to the Lucas Shop Steward Combine Committee that they produce their own business plan. read more »

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 »

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