Workers' self-management

1 December 2016Comment

What are Britain's corporate leader so worried about?


By the time this issue lands on your doorstep, it will probably have become clear just how much British prime minister Theresa May has been forced to back down from her signature policy of putting workers’ representatives on company boards.

Responding in May 1977 to the British government’s Bullock Report on industrial democracy, Noam Chomsky quoted the Dutch left-Marxist Anton Pannekoek. Pannekoek wrote decades earlier that the workers’ revolution ‘is not a single event of limited…

1 December 2016Feature

Cut War, Not Jobs: an inspiring example of constructive thinking from the 1970s

The Lucas Aerospace plan was developed in the mid-1970s by workers who wanted to move the aircraft manufacturer away from military production towards socially-useful production, in order to make their jobs more secure and more productive.

Lucas Aerospace had 18,000 workers spread out over Britain in 17 different factories, making collective action a real challenge.

The workforce was also divided into 13 different trade unions, adding to the difficulty of…

1 October 2016Comment

Ali Tamlit surveys some of the trials and tribulations of squatted sites

For the past two years I’ve been living in a well-known squatted site of resistance. While people usually ask me about the legal situation, the threat of eviction isn’t one of the main challenges for me. One of the biggest challenges for me is the constant flow of new people coming with the assumption that it’s an ‘open site’ because it’s a squat.

‘At the end of the day yeah, it’s just a squat, so you can’t tell me what to do’, is a phrase that I hear irritatingly often. Not that…

1 October 2016Feature

40th anniversary conference to revisit visionary Lucas Plan

On 26 November, a wide range of groups are organising a Lucas Plan 40th anniversary conference at Birmingham Voluntary Service Council. It is 40 years since the workers at the Lucas Aerospace arms company proposed making alternative socially-useful products, while retaining jobs.

The conference will both celebrate the achievements of the Lucas workers and, we hope, reinvigorate a movement for arms conversion and democratic control of the economy. The Lucas Plan showed that traditional…

9 June 2014Feature

Scottish independence could reinvigorate radical movements north and south of the border, and deal a blow to British imperialism

Weekly vigil, 14 May, North Gate of the Trident submarine base at Faslane, Scotland. A message from Faslane Peace Camp: ‘It’s now well into spring and the pace is picking up as we get closer to September’s crucial vote on Scottish independence. Leaving to one side our plans for clandestine activities, we can announce that over the weekend of 13-15 June, the camp will be celebrating its 32nd birthday. Come stay the whole weekend for direct action workshops, vegan food and entertainment. That…

17 October 2012Feature

This article is only available in the paper version of Peace News.

2 July 2012News in Brief

After three years’ work, the Radical Routes network of radical co-ops presented the updated version of their brilliant ‘How to Set Up a Workers’ Co-op’ pamphlet to the world at the Northern Futures co-op conference on 23 June.

It is available for £6 (inc p&p) from Radical Routes, Cornerstone Resource Centre, 16 Sholebroke Avenue, Leeds LS7 3HB, or it can be downloaded for free:…

30 May 2012Feature

PN marks the 100th anniversary of the publication of a ground-breaking pamphlet

One hundred years ago, a group of miners from South Wales published a radical economic and political pamphlet which ‘received a blaze of publication’ in The Times and other national newspapers. It was the topic of a special house of commons debate and ‘became a household word’ in the coalfields of Britain, according to miners’ historian R Page Arnot.

As the pre-First World War…

13 August 2011Feature

The struggle for democratic grassroots control of the economy has a long history, even in Britain. During the 1960s and 1970s, Ken Coates was at the heart of the movement for workers' self-management at one of its most vibrant periods.

PN: Looking over the postwar period in Britain, is there one experience that stands out as an inspiring advance towards workers' control and industrial democracy?
KC: The obvious thing is the UCS [in June 1971]. The government decided to rationalise the shipyards and close down the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders [with the likely loss of over 6,000 jobs]. The workers announced a work-in, that they wouldn't accept dismissal, and they'd work on and appeal for money from the labour…

13 August 2011Feature

This is one interview from Marina Sitrin's new book Horizontalism: Voices of Popular Power in Argentina, based on two years talking to the people who have taken over factories and neighbourhoods in response to the Argentinian crisis.

We are all older women here [at Brukman, an occupied textile factory], almost all of us are over 40, and our only source of employment is this factory. What we know how to do is work with the machines that are inside.

Because of this whole experience I have now begun to wonder why the worker always has to keep quiet? The boss doesn't pay you, the boss owes you money, and you're the one that has to leave, to hang your head and go.

Well, we made the decision that we weren't going…

3 May 2007Comment

May Day is workers' day

The struggle for the eight-hour day which began in the 19th century (and which goes on, even now) involved strikes and demonstrations throughout the world, and a coordinated day of action on 1 May 1886. In a related demonstration three days later, in the Haymarket in Chicago, a bomb was thrown at the police, killing eight. The anarchist organisers of the demonstration and the speakers were then arrested and prosecuted for the murders, on the grounds that the bomb…

1 May 2007Feature

As the largest “recuperated” or worker-occupied factory in Argentina, the Zanon ceramics plant in the Patagonian province of Neuqun employs 470 workers.
Along with some 180 other recuperated enterprises which provide jobs for more than 10,000 Argentine workers, the Zanon experience has re-defined the basis of production: without workers, bosses are unable to run a businesses; without bosses, workers can do it better.
The FASINPAT workers' co-op followed the slogan “occupy,…

1 November 2006Review

Libertarian Education, 2006; ISBN 0 9551647 0 2; £8.95.

Worlds Apart is a comparison of the dual worlds of formal and non-formal (or democratic) education. As the publisher's name implies, the book is written by a supporter of free education but it cannot be accused of being overly partisan in its approach. It seeks, rather, to cut through prejudice on both sides and to provide information through the words of the schools and the pupils themselves. It would be fair to say that positive and negative aspects come out of both accounts although the…

1 July 2006News

Just a few days after hosting the Peace News 70th birthday party, central London's The Square social centre had effectively come to an end.

The Russell Square property had been occupied for five months and been used by a broad range of groups to hold events from benefit gigs and free parties, to serious workshops and organising meetings.

Occupiers had been notified that they could be evicted from 23 June. In response to news of the impending eviction, a two-day festival of…

1 September 2001Feature

A community action group in Chile is helping a neighbourhoodto better its environment and the lives of its people. Their main focus is on improving the quality of life for the community'schildren and on encouraging participation by them in organising and managing their own spaces. Luis Tricot reports.

Valparaiso sits staring at the Pacific Ocean, its multicolour houses hanging from its 37 hills, indifferent to the rain and wind that sweep through the city's narrow, winding streets.

In Chile's oldest port, you are never too far away from the sea or the sky, and you are far too close to poverty. Since its leading industries abandoned the city for Santiago, its fortunes have slipped and it has become capital of the one of the country's poorest regions. One group of residents has…