The Next Ten Years in British Social and Economic Policy

By G. D. H. Cole | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VIII
WORKERS' CONTROL

Rationalisation and workers' control—Guild Socialism—The influence of war conditions on the demand for control—The shop stewards' movement—The effects of the slump—How far do the workers want control? —Guild Socialism reconsidered—Where it was in the right—Industrial Psychology and Welfare Work—The German Works Councils—A Works Councils Act needed for Great Britain—The Councils to be linked up with the Trade Unions—The case for 'collective contract'—And for a system of Industrial Courts—Democracy and representation distinguished—Their respective spheres defined—Guild Socialism again considered—The position of Trade Unionism in the new industrial order— The Washington Hours Convention and the International Labour Organisation—Industrial legislation and the Trade Unions—Scope for 'Guild' enterprise—Aided by State credits—The State and the Cooperative Movement—Need for diverse forms of enterprise co-ordinated under public control.

What is to be the position of the ordinary worker under the new industrialism? The insistence laid in the foregoing chapters on the need for the rationalisation of industry under expert administration plainly demands a definite answer to this question. For if one kind of rationalisation is to be the policy of Socialism, as another is now that of progressive capitalism, will even Socialism really give the worker what he wants? Will he not be, in the oft-repeated phrase, as much a wage-slave under a Socialism economy as he is now under the capitalist system?

Only a few years ago the world was resounding with the demand for workers' control in industry—a demand which assumed its most definite form in Guild Socialism, and became specially insistent during and immediately after the War. Guild Socialism as a theory found practical confirmation of its point of view in various movements which rose up spontaneously among the rank and file of the workers. The labour unrest of

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