by former Lucas Aerospace Combine Shop Stewards’ Committee members Brian Salisbury, John Routley and Phil Asquith
The Lucas Aerospace Combine Shop Stewards’ Committee’s Alternative Corporate Plan (known widely as the Lucas Plan) was launched in 1976; it rapidly became an international cause celebre.
The Plan was unique in that trade unionists, for the first time, proposed a radical alternative to job losses in the arms industry by expanding the workforce to manufacture alternative products which were socially useful, whilst using human centred design and production methods to maximise skills and abilities.
The Plan, which proposed a wide range of products designed primarily by the workforce – including wind turbines, hybrid cars, energy efficient housing, as well as much needed medical equipment – attracted widespread national and international recognition as a positive alternative to unemployment and recession; it also identified how technology could be used to answer society’s unmet needs. Nominated in 1982 for the Nobel Peace Prize, interest in the now 45-year-old Plan endures as the social and environmental problems it tackled are still with us, only so much more urgent.
Today, as the economy develops post pandemic, radical changes will be necessary if the UK is to meet the targets required to tackle climate change. Organised labour will lose out unless it takes the initiative. We developed our Plan in 1976 as an alternative to the tendency of trade unions to all too often be on the receiving end, reacting defensively to profit-driven corporate decision-making. We believe that workers’ plans, as an alternative to market driven company plans, are needed if we are to transition production post-pandemic towards a Green New Deal, rather than simply have long term, too often un-met, targets set by central government. Workers developing alternative plans for their workplaces, is a significant concrete means of really levelling up society, through a participatory democracy where the balance of power shifts towards them.
To this end, we remaining members of the Lucas Aerospace Combine considered that now is the time, for the first time, to put together our own unique website to detail our Combine’s history and key information related to the Lucas Plan campaign. This wealth of information is being provided to inform and assist other trade unionists, activists and organisations who may wish to draw upon the Plan and our experience campaigning for it.
We would like to thank and acknowledge the contribution from UNISON West Midlands Fire Service Branch which has sponsored the development of the website.
Our new website – thelucasaerocombineshopstewardscommittee.org/
The original flyer available here.
What they said at the time:-
‘The Plan is one of the most advanced yet prepared in the UK by a group of shop stewards…one of the most radical alternative plans ever drawn up by workers for their company.’ FINANCIAL TIMES.
The document is clearly worth consideration by management. For it demonstrates clearly that if managers don’t carry out their jobs to the satisfaction of workers, then those same workers have the capability and know how to do it for them.’ INDUSTRIAL MANAGEMENT.
‘A twentieth century version of the industrial revolution.’ THE ENGINEER.
‘The most impressive piece of work from trade unionists I have seen in a long time’ LORD BESWICK, DEPARTMENT OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY.
‘A new trade unionism in the making?’ THE LUCAS PLAN, WAINWRIGHT AND ELLIOTT.