Submitted by Paul Cannon
Workers Control: Germany has a version workers control where workers sit on the board of big firms, have voting rights and compose half of the supervisory boards of large companies, France also has a weaker version of this. In Britain there is nothing.
At a time when the trade unions were strong, a government report (Bullock Report 1977) was produced that would have put workers on the board of big firms, with voting rights; this was rejected by most of the trade unions. They preferred to defend workers’ rights from the outside and let managers manage. Groups like the Communist Party influential at the time also rejected it because they thought this was an accommodation with capitalism, while right wing trade unionists also insisted on ‘management’s right to manage’.
It can be argued that workers on the board would have put up a stronger fight against the closing down of British industry started by Thatcher.
It can also be argued that this trade union attitude of not wanting to be in charge has not changed today, although we note approvingly the 2013 GMB motion on UK Industrial Policy submitted by NW B84 and the publications initiated by the TUC such as Workers on Board by Janet Williamson.
This Congress instructs the incoming National Members Council and Workers Party Trade Union Group to develop work on an Industrial Strategy to be used by our members and taken up by wider sections of the labour movement, including in campaigning work inside our trade unions. That in advancing this strategy we develop and utilise various and innovative demands for workers control as part of the struggle for working-class power and in tandem with the ongoing struggles for better pay and conditions.