1960-2000: Workers' Control against Capitalist Restructuring

What if the workers were in control?

Back in the 1970s, with unemployment rising and British industry contracting, workers at the arms company Lucas Aerospace came up with a pioneering plan to retain jobs by proposing alternative, socially-useful applications of the company’s technology and their own skills. The ‘Lucas Plan’ remains one of the most radical and forward thinking attempts ever made by workers to take the steering wheel and directly drive the direction of change.  read more »

Lucas Aerospace Combine Shop Steward Committee Corporate Plan: A contingency strategy as a positive alternative to recession and redundancies

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. 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 »

A Paul Mattick Interview

Question : What relevance does Pannekoek's book have in Europe today ? Do you think that the analytic memory and theory of the past experience of council communism, as Pannekoek expresses them, can be "heard" and understood by workers here today ?

Answer : A book, such as Pannekoek's, is not in need of immediate relevance. It concerns itself with a historical period; with past occurrences as well as possible future experiences, in which the phenomenon of workers' councils appearing and disappearing points to a trend of development in workers' class struggle and its changing objectives. read more »

The Lucas Plan: What can it tell us about democratising technology today?

It was in January 1976 that workers at Lucas Aerospace published an Alternative Plan for the future of their corporation. It was a novel response to management announcements that thousands of manufacturing jobs were to be cut in the face of industrial restructuring, international competition, and technological change. Instead of redundancy, workers argued their right to socially useful production. 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.

 

 

 

Cooperatives and workers’ control in 20th century Greece

The ensuing excursus in the history of farmers’ cooperativism and workers’ participation brings into visibility a variety of partly non-capitalist processes of collective self-activity in Greece. These have operated alongside and intertwined with a state-dominated market economy involving a multitude of small business, an under-industrialised production and a large service sector (commerce, tourism, finance, etc.). Taking our cues from the constructive critique of ‘capitalo-centrism’ put forward by Gibson-Graham, we adumbrate here the historical contours of a heterogeneous economy which is not fully captured by any single logic, global force or sovereign structure. read more »

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 »

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