Friday, 30 September 2011

Enfranchize the workforce

In a world that's in the middle (or possibly still near the beginning) of a recession/depression, the pressure is on employers to cut costs by reducing workers' pay and making redundancies and so the people who carry the consequences are those with the least power. To defend themselves, employees are increasingly looking to taking strike action.

Striking has a long history within the labour movement. Here's a proposal for a simple alternative for a workers' action. Instead of striking for pay increases during a recession, why not campaign for greater stakeholder influence? That is, it's understandable if there's no pay increase in a recession or depression, but it's not the worker's fault (nor I would argue is it necessarily the management fault either). But if the management can't maintain wages, is there any reason why they can't provide shares in the company?

Campaigning for shares (i.e. shares for individual members) would have numerous consequences.
  1. It'd mean that the workforce would potentially receive compensation for their loss of earnings, albeit deferred to when dividends would become available.
  2. It'd mean that the workforce would have more of a vested interest in the company's success.
  3. It'd mean that all levels of the workforce would have a stake in the company power base: the company would be taking a step towards being a cooperative.
  4. It'd be much easier for outsiders to sympathize with the aims of the workers: it's hard to justify penalizing your employees and simultaneously keeping them disenfranchised when the entire company's existence depends on them.
Enfranchise the workforce - what's there not to like :-) ?

Ref: Maverick.