Another great idea: A Labour government would let employees own shares in companies

John McDonnell will argue in favour of more co-operative ownership [Image: Martin Godwin for the Guardian].

Very long-term readers will know that Vox Political supports the idea of employee-ownership and worker-owned co-operatives, so This Blog’s support for John McDonnell’s latest policy proposal should come as no surprise.

The proposal supplements one made by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn over the weekend, that would bar companies from handing out dividends unless they paid the (real) Living Wage. In support of this, he advocated salary curbs to stop bosses being paid hundreds or thousands of times more than their employees.

These are plans that would succeed. Employment would stop being a trap, forcing people to slave for the enrichment of others while being forced to claim state benefits themselves; the government would pay out fewer in-work benefits as wages rise, meaning taxes could be diverted to other causes or cut altogether; and there would be much less of the old “us v them” enmity supported by our “divide and conquer” Conservatives.

Note also Mr McDonnell’s sideswipe at “small ‘c’ conservatives” in the Labour Party. The policies of these people have failed – they didn’t have anywhere to go. It is time for fresh ideas to take their place.

In a speech in Manchester, [John] McDonnell will propose giving employees the right to request share ownership and have those proposals considered by their bosses. He will advocate offering workers the first right to buy out a company that is being dissolved, sold or floated on the stock exchange.

“The Tories have offered a right to buy. Labour would seek to better this. We’d be creating a new right to own,” he will say.

On Saturday, Labour’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn, proposed barring companies from distributing dividends unless they paid the living wage and putting in place salary curbs to stop bosses being paid many times more than workers.

In an attempt to help workers have a greater say over their workplaces, McDonnell’s speech will make an argument in favour of more cooperative ownership as the old economic strategies “have run their course”.

“Our problem today is that we must learn to think systemically about the kind of economy we want,” he will say. “And where our opponents now warn and threaten about the terrors ahead, we must present a positive case for the future we all want.

“The Tories talked relentlessly, overwhelmingly about the future. Labour, strikingly, did not. We cannot allow that to happen again. We cannot be small ‘c’ conservatives. But the future we want will be built on the best of what we do now. We learn from the past.”

Source: Labour backs employees’ right to own shares in their workplace | Politics | The Guardian

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3 thoughts on “Another great idea: A Labour government would let employees own shares in companies

  1. Barry Davies

    ICI used to give all their employees shares once a year, the vast majority simply sold them rather than keeping them as an instant bonus. I’m not sure the workers would want to buy shares.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      That’s no reason not to offer them.
      I wonder if this ’employee-ownership’ idea has more to it than that, though – perhaps they are non-transferable shares, that you keep as long as you’re with the company?

Comments are closed.