Letter: Stake in a job

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The Independent Online
Sir: So the Adam Smith Institute and some Labour politicians share the aim of "giving individuals their own stake in their future welfare provision", by having them contribute to personal insurance accounts which will pay benefits in the event of unemployment, sickness, etc (10 June).

A few pages later, in an article about redundancy and sackings, the director of the Institute of Personnel and Development is quoted as saying: "All the rhetoric about stakeholding is just hot air unless organisations are seen by their employees to be committed to long-term strategies for maximising employment opportunities."

If individuals are to be required to take responsibility for their own welfare during periods of unemployment,would it not be just to enable them also to take more control over their own lives while in employment? Democratic employee ownership has proved itself to be an equitable and viable form of enterprise, both where a facility was formerly within the public sector - eg Tower Colliery, Greenwich Leisure, the dozens of self- managed carers' co-operatives - and in the 1,000-plus small and medium- sized businesses which have opted to establish themselves as co-operatives in the past two decades. Needless to say, long-term employment strategies are part of these organisations plans.

Yet while there seems to be a growing consensus that workers should be making their own provision for the lean times, there is a woeful lack of political interest in significant measures to enable them to enjoy job security and fair reward during their wealth-producing years. Employee control of enterprise should be fundamental to any vision of a stakeholding society. ICOM (the Industrial Common Ownership Movement) has produced an eight-point plan for changes in public policy which would encourage the expansion of democratic employee ownership.

CHARLIE CATTELL

Industrial Common

Ownership Movement

Leeds

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