The Question Of Workers' Control
The ordinary workman cannot control industry in. the sense of planning either what is to be produced or how production is to be organised He does not know enough, and cannot, for this to be possible in a society in which new methods of production are continually being discovered, and any country that allows its technical efficiency to lag behind will be unable to hold its position in the world market, or to sustain a satisfactory standard of living for its people But, although the ordinary worker cannot know enough to be in a position to say what should be produced or what new techniques are called for, he does know a great deal about where the shoe pinches when methods and processes are changed without his consent
Workers' control can mean nothing unless it begins on the workshop floor, in relation to matters which the ordinary worker can understand and which affect his working life Joint consultation at the workshop and factory levels is a step towards it, wherever it includes real prior consultation about proposed changes in workshop practice But consultation is not control, because it still leaves the final decision in the hands of a management responsible to the owners of the business, and not to the workers-or to a state-appointed Board or Commission where the industry is publicly owned The workers must still either obey or strike they have still under joint consultation no positive right to participate in deciding what is to be done
Extending Joint-Consultation I want them to gain such a right, by building on joint consultation an
extended kind of collective bargaining, under which, in each establishment, the rules and regulations governing workshop practice will be embodied in negotiated agreements, accepted as binding upon both parties and backed by the Trade Unions as an integral part of the structure of collective bargaining Such factory or workplace agreements would, of course, need to be sanctioned by the Trade Unions at the regional and national levels, in order to prevent them from being misused to break down Trade Union standards I can see no good reason why this cannot be done It would, of course, involve the Trade Unions in building up improved machinery for workshop negotiation and in giving greater powers and fuller recognition to shop stewards and factory committees But this would be a great gain because it would diffuse responsibility more widely and would counteract the tendency towards increasing centralisation of Trade Union affairs.