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.

Approaching employee representatives at all the Lucas Aerospace plants across the UK, as well as academics and other interested parties, the Combine draw up their plans often through highlighting products of medical or social use abandoned in a drive for a focus on military contracts by the aerospace conglomerate. Not only did the stewards explore potential products but also looked at alternative organisation of production, forms of organisation which liberated rather than subordinated the human operative.


When the ‘Lucas Plan’ was published it quickly became recognised as an iconic document promoting ‘socially useful production’ although dismissed by Lucas Aerospace management, trade unions (who attacked such shop steward combine committees as bypassing ‘official channels) as well as the Labour Government which had marginalised Benn and begun the move towards neo-liberalism. The attached article links to a series of materials on the Lucas Plan, initially a contemporary film made from academics at the Open University some of the few that responded favourably to the initial research by the Lucas stewards.  There is also an occasional paper by Adrian Smith which maps the development of the Lucas Plan and its influence.