Socially Useful Production

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 »

Self-management, Social Reappropriation and the Commons

I would like to start by examining the latter of these three notions, first exploring its meaning in the singular sense. The ‘common’ should be understood as a political principle whereby there is no shared accountability without co-participation in the same activity: simply being a member of a specific group (be it a family, a nation, a certain ethnicity, etc.) is not enough. It is this very principle that inspired the backlash against representative democracy seen amongst movements in recent history that have occupied squares (the Indignés movement as well as the Gezi Park and Taksim Square protests, to name but a few). 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 »

Socially Useful Production

Worker-controlled companies often apply the principle "production for use, not for profit", using their existing skills and machinery to switch production towards the fulfilling of human needs and away from environmentally and socially hazardous products.

The Social Innovations of Autogestión in Argentina’s Worker-Recuperated Enterprises: Cooperatively Reorganizing Productive Life in Hard Times

Argentina’s  worker-recuperated enterprises emerged out of the unraveling of the country’s neoliberal experiment circa 1997. With traditional union tactics proving incapable of addressing workers’ immediate needs, some workers took matters into their own hands by occupying and reopening their bankrupted or failing firms as workers’ cooperatives under the auspices of autogestión (self-management).

Occupy, Resist, Produce – Officine Zero

Officine Zero, former RSI (Rail Service Italia) was dedicated to the maintenance and repair of sleeping cars. When in December 2011 Italian train services decided to stop the night train service and invest in fast track trains, RSI closed. Some 20 workers out of the almost 60 employees strong work force did not accept the closing and took up the struggle. They found support among the activists from the nearby social center, “Strike.” In February 2012 they occupied their work place. Together they started a laboratory on reconversion, organizing public assemblies attended by hundreds of people. read more »

Occupy, Resist, Produce – VIOME

VIOME is a building materials factory in Thessaloniki, Greece, which was abandoned by its owners at the peak of the Greek crisis, in 2011. Subsequently it was occupied by its workers, and has been producing natural detergents under workers' control since 2013. Despite being an emblematic and inspiring struggle, today VIOME is under imminent threat of eviction. read more »

When the Workers Become the Owners: Taking the Co-op Movement to the Next Level

There's a revolution taking place in the US workforce - but you may not have heard about it.

Around the country, workers are starting businesses that they democratically control and that financially benefit them. These businesses, called worker cooperatives, are owned and governed by the employees. Every worker is a member of the co-op, which gives them one share and one vote in the company's operations. read more »

The Working World: Financing Workplace Democracy

The Working World (TWW) is an alternative loan fund that supports worker run co-operatives and other democratic workplaces with micro-credit loans and technical support. They also refer to themselves as a “solidarity financial organization” which promotes community wealth maximization and worker ownership through loans to worker-run companies.

Annie McShiras talked with Brendan Martin, founder and president, and Ethan Earle, a board member, about the solidarity philosophy they use as an organized loan fund, their goal of maximizing community wealth through their loan funds, and the importance of building a “culture of belief.” She also reviewed the basic kind of work they do with them. read more »

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