Workers’ representation and industrial democracy


A selection from the book shelves on industrial democracy

Following on from our previous post that mentioned the recent debate about workers on company boards, we thought we would turn the spotlight on the material in the TUC Library on the subject of industrial democracy.

From the period of the establishment of the TUC in the late 19th century, the issue of workers’ representation and control over their work process has been a central demand of the labour movement. The developments of “new unionism“, anarcho-syndicalism, workers’ cooperatives, and guild socialism, were all hotly debated in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Following the Second World War the TUC attempted to influence the economic reconstruction and industrial relations environment by lobbying for more workplace democracy, planning and co-determination (as can be seen in this document here), a structure that became the model in Continental economies such as Germany.

By the 1960s and 1970s this model was coming under strain in the UK, exemplified by the document In Place of Strife issued by the Wilson Government and the Royal Commission on Trade Unions and Employers’ Associations (known as the Donovan Commission) in 1968. Continued industrial strife in the 1970s led to the 1977 Report of the Committee of Inquiry on Industrial Democracy, chaired by Lord Bullock, a report that recommended radical reforms to company board structures to embed employee representation. The recommendations were never enacted, however. The TUC Library contains not only the Report itself but a wide variety of publications and commentary from the period. The TUC continued to lobby for increased workplace democracy into the 1980s and 1990s.

The TUC Library copy of the Bullock Report.

A selection of TUC publicaions on industrial democracy from the 1970s and 80s

The TUC continues to produce material on the subject and published a number of reports in recent years, prior to the government of Theresa May putting the issue back on the public agenda. You can view online versions of the publications shown below here, here, here and here.

TUC publications on the subject of workplace democracy (2013 – 2016).

For more information about this topic, or any of the items featured, get in touch.



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