chapter  Seven
Bureaucracy, Oligarchy, and Incorporation in Shop Steward Organisations in the 1980s
WithEric Batstone
Pages 24

This chapter aims to assess the distribution of power within shop steward organisations and considers the amount of control over labour relations which they exert and the uses to which they put such control. The main aspect of oligarchy distinguished above concerns the distribution of power within shop steward organisations. The chapter considers the theme of steward incorporation thesis, namely, the extent to which stewards influence the wage-effort bargain and the uses to which they put that influence. The thesis of steward incorporation, or the "bureaucratisation of the rank-and-file", argued that Donovan-type reform was aimed at reducing steward and worker power by developing a managerialist and oligarchical steward body which would be prepared both to sign workplace agreements and to ensure that workers in practice conformed to the terms of those agreements. In the survey respondents were asked to rate the influence of both stewards and senior stewards in determining work organisation and manual workers' earnings.