29 Nov 2011

Economic Democracy for the Occupy generation

A number of us are supporting a motion to support Economic Democracy for the next Green Party conference in the spring,  Peter Tatchell has set the ball rolling and thanks to his work we now have the following proposal:

To help prevent a repeat economic meltdown, we need greater economic democracy, participation, transparency, decentralisation and accountability. There are four ways we could achieve this:
* Make corporate negligence and recklessness an explicit criminal offence, to reign in big business sharks and ensure more responsible economic management. Bankers and company bosses should not be able to wreck whole economies and squander with impunity people’s jobs, pensions and savings. They ought to be held personally liable for damaging corporate decisions. This spectre of legal penalties is likely to result in more prudent corporate governance.
* Require medium and large-sized companies to be accountable to their employees and to the general public by including on their management boards employee-elected directors and independent directors to represent the interests of consumers. Employee and consumer directors could act as watchdogs and whistleblowers against corporate irresponsibility. Not being driven by the profit-motive, they could also push for company policies that are more socially inclusive and environmentally protective.
* Give trade unions a majority stake in the management of their members’ pension funds, to decentralise and democratise investment decision-making and to give it a social and ethical dimension. The £900 billion invested in pension funds is a sizeable counter-weight to the economic clout of big business. It could be invested in ways that help make the economy more fair and people-centred. Trade unions are less likely to invest in the arms trade and sweatshops. They would be more open to investment to meet people’s needs, including renewable energy, affordable housing and quality public transport.
* Grant employees the legal right to buy out their companies and turn them into workers cooperatives; possibly with funding from trade union-controlled pension funds. These coops would weaken the power of big corporations, localise economic decision-making and give employees incentives for greater productivity. Evidence shows that people who areemployed in worker-owned enterprises tend to have higher output, better job satisfaction and greater social solidarity.      


Matt Harwood said...

I totally agree and support points 1-3. But 4, in my view, steps far too far.

The idea of workers having a right to buy out the entire company from the founders and owners is not fair to those founders and owners who have, the vast majority of the time, given everything to grow the business from nothing. You cannot seemingly punish every business owner with the threat of taking his private "property".

It would be an amazing thing for worker's co-ops to be more common, but doing so by some coup seems rather too much power, at least to me.

Gus said...

On the other hand, without the workers whose labour the founders and owners have relied upon to build companies' success, where would they be?

Is is not fair that if you play your part in helping to make a business successful, that you should also have some say in how that success happens, and also gain a fair share of the rewards?

Anonymous said...

workers' co-ops (note apostrophe position)? - like it's gonna happen...

Anonymous said...

maybe the right should be given when company faces bankruptcy ie like when companies are sold to other buisness people for virtually nothing to keep them going. i agree with the point but would feel that it would be revoloutionary to make it in the present situation. think we need to stick to transitional demands at moment.

Symon said...

Great stuff! Proposal 4 is particularly encouraging.


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