Monday 11 July 2016

Grunwick & Lucas Aerospace 40 years on: what can they teach us?

 1976 was quite a year for Brent with the ground-breaking Grunwick dispute and a Willesden outpost of Lucas Aerospace when workers were developing their own plans for socially useful production under workers control.  This upcoming event will enable us to reflect on both events and what we can learn from them.

 Useful background on this video - this is not the film that will be screened on July 22nd

Screening of The Year of the Beaver and The Lucas Plan LINK, with discussion and brief talks by Kerria Box (Grunwick 40) and Solfed.

22nd July 7pm at LARC, 62 Fieldgate Street, E1 (nearest tubes Whitechapel, Aldgate East.)

Organised by Breaking the Frame, Grunwick 40 and North London Solidarity Federation. FREE/donation.

1976 was a high tide of workers’ struggle and the year it all began to change. Giving the lie to racist and sexist myths that Asian women were submissive and would work for a pittance, workers at the Grunwick plant in Willesden rallied the left behind their struggle for the right to join the union. At the Lucas Aerospace arms company, the Shops Stewards’ Combine Committee took the fight to the bosses, with their workers’ Alternative Plan for socially useful production.

In 2016 we are still facing the fiction of  ‘foreigners taking our jobs.’ In the face of climate change and militarism, we again need industrial conversion, from fossil fuels and Trident to renewables, and to stop the bosses replacing our jobs with robots. Join us for 2 films and discussion, showing how workers’ rights and ideas are crucial to facing those challenges.

Refreshments will be available for a donation. Contact for more information. Venue is wheelchair accessible.

1 comment:

Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group said...

Thanks for this, Martin. I found the above video well worth watching eventually, and used it as the basis of a Kilburn Unemployed blog post.

Here I will address matters to do with the time period at which the Corporate Plan was being developed. An audience member on the video raised the matter of the idea of permaculture having arisen at about the time of the Lucas Aerospace Shop Stewards Combine's Corporate Plan, and sadly none of the panel had any enlightenment about that matter, though I believe the questioner said that ideas of permaculture came to prominence first at the time of that Corporate Plan that involved control by the workforce.

Also in the 1970's — 1973 to be precise — there was publication of economist E F 'Fritz' Schumacher's book Small is Beautiful: A study of economics as if people mattered Schumacher had a great reply to someone calling him a 'crank': He affirmed the accusation, taking it as a compliment because: "a crank is a small element in a machine that makes revolutions."

In my own personal life I first heard of the Corporate Plan by way of campaigning with West Midlands CND via a bookstall in the main Quaker building in Birmingham, getting invited into a Quaker Socialist Society Meeting in October 1977 about the Corporate Plan and thus getting in touch with Quakers at a time when my career life had been a history of being verbally bullied at work.

From late 1978 to early 1979 in Plymouth I was a member of Plymouth CND and Plymouth Campaign Against Arms Trade, while the Royal Navy Dockyard was the major employer in the area. So the idea of conversion from armaments work to socially useful stuff was evidence that we were not being really destructive.

Campaigning later in London in the 1980's with Campaign Against Arms Trade, I read that the machinery used in armaments manufacture was so capital intensive and automated that it was never switched off, and therefore there was a much greater drive toward production plants working 24/7. Against that backdrop in Germany, research showed that families of shift workers were more inclined to antisocial behaviour because of the disjointed nature that such timetabling gave to family life.

And a development of the Corporate Plan's type of thinking was the development of CAITS — Centre for Alternative Industrial & Technological Systems as mentioned in the audience discussion.

Now that the workplace is being dehumanised the DWP is going beyond the robotisation of the education system with its SATS, to use 'psycho-coercion' and threat of benefit sanctions to get people into the workplace, or rather, into 'work for your benefits' slavery.. They are also getting or trying to get helping professionals to collude with what the DWP calls the 'work cure'. The workfare state is now setting therapeutic goals!

Alan Wheatley