By Maurizio Atzeni (eds.)
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With the increased significance of multi-plant conglomerates, shop stewards were increasingly establishing cross-site combines for communication and to coordinate strategy. While appearing as the promoters of conflict within the workplace in popular imagery, the shop steward system had, in reality, minimized open dispute by bargaining a plethora of ‘plus payments’. However, such developments were essentially informal arrangements outside of formal trade union and collective bargaining, and opposed by trade union officialdom as much as by employers.
To the extent that capitalism is an undemocratic but also contradictory system, alternative proposals for the future organization of work in production and the role of work in our societies will recurrently emerge but will also need to be recurrently defended. Chapter outlines This collection continues with Chapter 2 by Alan Tuckman, who offers an historical overview of the factory occupations, workers’ cooperatives and alternative productive plans that arose and developed in the UK during the 1970s.
The Wilson programme included the extension of industrial and economic planning – launching Britain into ‘the white heat of technological revolution’ – by attempting a rationalization of key industries to meet international competition. Principally this was to be attempted through the Industrial Reorganisation Corporation (IRC), whose purpose was ‘to promote structural change which will improve the efficiency and profitability of British industry’ (Hansard, 1968). As we shall see, the IRC made a significant impact with its attempt to rationalize British industrial capital.