United Kingdom

Sewer Syndicalism: Worker Self-Management in Public Services

In the current US political climate, the prospects of implementing a robust form of public service syndicalism will surely appear remote. Yet, the example of Britain suggests that at least measured steps in that direction might be politically feasible here. Particularly at the state and municipal levels, there may be opportunities to engage in “novel social and economic experiments” with worker-run public services. Through such experimentation, public services under worker control can serve as demonstration projects to promote workplace democracy and worker empowerment more broadly. 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.   

'Social ownership for the 21st century'

The publication of Social ownership for the 21st century by the Labour Representation Committee on behalf of the Left Economics Advisory Panel is a significant development.  For the first time in nearly three decades an important section of the labour movement is at last developing a discussion on the questions of forms of social ownership, workers’ control and workers’ self-management.  The Tragedy of read more »

The struggle for self-management

Dear comrades,

It is remarkable how few socialists seem to recognize the connection between the structure of their own organization and the type of ‘socialist’ society it might help bring about. read more »

Britain: New Wave of Factory Occupations

A rash of workplace occupations is spreading across the globe as workers defy the brutal consequences of the recession. Instead of surrendering to mass redundancies and outright closures, workers are occupying their workplaces as a central method of struggling for justice.

Every example that wins concessions is boosting the belief of other workforces that there is an alternative – militant class action can win at least something.

VICTORY TO VESTAS read more »

The Story of the Lucas Aerospace Shop Stewards Alternative Corporate Plan

This film, "The Story of the Lucas Aerospace Shop Stewards Alternative Corporate Plan" was made in 1978 for the Open University. It documents an unusual episode in British corporate history. Shop stewards from Lucas Aerospace, facing massive redundancies, developed their own plan to safeguard their jobs by moving the business into alternative technologies that would meet social needs, as well as new methods of production.


The Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital Work-in

In 1976, after a long period of neglect by the health authorities, the Department of Health in the UK announced that the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (EGA) Hospital - a hospital for women in central London, where women were treated by women staff - would be closed. 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 »

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 »

The Grunwick Strike 1976-78

The struggle at Grunwick Photo Processing in London was a sharp industrial struggle initiated by female imigrant workers. Beginning in the summer of 1976 the women workers (mostly from Asia) protested against the racist discrimination articulated in bad payment, miserable working conditions and cruel treatment by the management. read more »