- Industrial democracy
Industrial democracy is an arrangement which involves workers making decisions, sharing responsibility and
authorityin the workplace. In company law, the term generally used is co-determination, following the German word "Mitbestimmung". In Germany half of the supervisory board of directors (which elects management) is elected by the shareholders, and the other half by the workers. Although industrial democracy generally refers to the organization model in which workplaces are run directly by the people who work in them in place of private or state ownershipof the means of production, there are also representative forms of industrial democracy. Representative industrial democracy includes decision making structures such as the formation of committeesand consultative bodies to facilitate communication between management, unions, and staff.
Benefits of industrial democracy
Advocates often point out that industrial democracy increases productivity and service delivery from a more fully engaged and happier workforce. Other benefits include the following: less industrial dispute resulting from better communication in the workplace; improved and inclusive decision making processes resulting in qualitatively better workplace decisions; decreased stress and increased well-being; an increase in job satisfaction; a reduction in absenteeism; improved sense of fulfillment.
Industrial democracy and revolutionary socialism
In late 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century industrial democracy, along with
anarcho-syndicalismand new unionism, represented one of the dominant tendencies in revolutionary socialismand played a prominent role in international labour movements. While their influence declined after the defeat of the anarchists in the Spanish Revolutionin 1939, several unions and organizations advocating industrial democracy continue to exist and are again on the rise internationally.
Industrial Workers of the Worldadvance an industrial unionismwhich would organize all the workers, regardless of skill, gender or race, into one big union divided into a series of departments corresponding to different industries. The industrial unions would be the embryonic form of future post-capitalistproduction. Once sufficiently organized, the industrial unions would overthrow capitalism by means of a general strike, and carry on production through worker run enterprises without bosses or the wage system. Anarcho-syndicalist unions, like the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo, are similar in their means and ends but organize workers into geographically based and federated syndicates rather than industrial unions.
The New Unionism Network also promotes
workplace democracyas a means to linking production and economic democracy.
Representative industrial democracy in modern capitalist economies
Modern industrial economies have adopted several aspects of industrial democracy to improve productivity and as reformist measures against industrial disputes. Often referred to as "
teamworking", this form of industrial democracy has been practiced in Scandinavia, Germany, The Netherlands and the UK, as well as in several Japanese companies including Toyota, as an effective alternative to Taylorism.
The term is often used synonymously with
workplace democracy, in which the traditional master-servant model of employmentgives way to a participative, power-sharing model.
Industrial Workers of the World
Socialist Party USA
League for Industrial Democracy
* [http://www.mondragon.mcc.es/ing/index.asp Mondragon Corporacion Cooperativa, Spain]
* [http://eid.sagepub.com/ Economic and Industrial Democracy: An International Journal]
* [http://www.newunionism.net New Unionism Network]
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