Lucas Aerospace Combine Shop Steward Committee Corporate Plan: A contingency strategy as a positive alternative to recession and redundancies
An original 1976 document summarising the alternative plan of Lucas Aerospace workers, proposed to combat redundancies and shift toward a more socially useful production.
In January 1976, the workers of Lucas Aerospace published an alternative plan regarding the future of their company. It was for the most part a response to the management's intention to cut thousands of jobs in the context of industrial restructuring, in order to confront international competition. In the text, the workers argue in favor of a shift towards socially useful production.
"The object of the Corporate Plan is twofold. Firstly to protect our members right to work by proposing a range of alternative products on which they could become engaged in the event of further cut backs in the aerospace industry. Secondly to ensure that among the alternative products proposed are a number which would be socially useful to the community at large."
"It remains our view that no matter how many sections of workers in other industries take up these demands, the progress can only be minimal so long as our society is based on the assumption that profits come first and people come last. Thus the question is a political one, whether we like it or not. Perhaps the most significant feature of the Corporate Plan is that trade unionists are attempting to transcend the narrow economism which has characterised trade union activity in the past and extend our demands to the extent of questioning the products on which we work and the way in which we work upon them. This questioning of basic assumptions about what should be produced and how it should be produced is one that is likely to grow in momentum."
Find below a pdf file of an original document, the 53-page summary of the alternative plan, detailing a host of proposed changes, both in terms of production and in terms of other aspects, such as job redesign, corporate responsibility and worker development.
This Corporate Plan was prepared by the Lucas Aerospace Combine Shop Stewards Committee for that section of Joseph Lucas Industries which is known as Lucas Aerospace.
If a brief description of Lucas Industries is provided this gives an economic, technical and company background against which the performance and potential of its wholly owned subsidiary, Lucas Aerospace, can be viewed. It was also felt desirable to do so as some of the alternative products proposed elsewhere in this report, although emanating from aerospace technology, could more appropriately be handled, at the manufacturing stage, by production techniques and facilities available elsewhere in the Lucas organisations.
Lucas Industries Ltd.
Lucas Industries is a vast and complex organisation with design, development, manufacturing, sales and services activities in te automotive, aerospace and industrial sectors of the economy.
The Company which was formed in 1877 now has some 80 000 employees and an annual turnover of approximately £300 000 000 and capital investment of £110 000 000. A simplified schematic diagram of the U.K. structure is provided in Appendix 1.
A discernable feature of the Company's mode of operation during the past few years has been to shift large quantities of capital, resources and technological know-how into overseas activities. The scale and nature of this may be judged from Appendix 2. This raises a whole host of fundamental, political, economic and industrial questions, as is the case with the operation of any Multi-National Corporation. It is not the purpose of the Corporate Plan to analyse these. Suffice to say that this tendency is causing deep rooted concern amongst large sections of Lucas employees and they will clearly have to consider appropriate means of defending themselves from the likely repercussion of these developments. These views and anxieties are reflected in the Aerospace division.
Lucas Industries hold a monopoly, or near monopoly position, in respect of a number of product ranges both in the United Kingdom and in Europe. However the present economic crisis, itself a reflection of the inherent contradictions of the market economy, is having serious repercussions within Lucas Industries. At the time of preparing this report the Company is attempting to shed large sections of labour in some of its plants . There has also been a serious cut in the living standards of all Lucas workers both by hand and brain since 1972. The attitude of the Company to its employees and society at large is however no worse than that of its international competitors and it is certainly better than some of them. However, a sophisticated industrial relations set up and a relatively elaborate network of consultative devices simply provide a thin veneer of concern, beneath which is concealed all the inevitable ruthlessness of a large corporation involved in the frantic international competition of the 1970's.