Celebrating the Fortieth Anniversary of the Lucas Plan

Lucas-Plan--WebTogether with trade unionists and organisations from the peace and environment movements, Breaking The Frame is helping to organise the celebrations to mark the 40th anniversary of the Lucas Plan.

The Lucas Plan was a pioneering effort by workers at Lucas Aerospace to propose alternative, socially useful applications of the company’s technology and workers’ skills. The idea was to meet genuine social needs whilst retaining jobs.

We hope these celebrations will help to reopen debate about industrial conversion and democratic control of technology, in relation to current issues.

The Lucas Plan: widely regarded as an inspiring model of industrial democracy

The Lucas Plan has played an important role in showing that traditional trade union concerns about the impact of job losses in harmful industries (such as arms manufacture, nuclear power, etc) can be met.

Forty years after the Lucas Plan, issues of weapons manufacture (eg Trident) are still highly topical. In addition, our society faces the threat of climate change and the need for massive ‘decarbonisation’ of the economy and conversion to renewable energy.

Another issue raised by technological developments is the impact of robotics and automation, with estimates suggesting massive job losses, with polarisation of the jobs market into low-paid service sector and highly-paid professional jobs.

Find out more about the Lucas Plan in this article from The Guardian or by watching this 1978 documentary from the Open University (24 mins)

Coming up

The new Anniversary Celebration Group, which includes members of the Lucas Aerospace Shop Stewards Combine which produced the Lucas Plan, is planning a conference/gathering in November and possible regional events before then.

A new website with an archive of original Lucas Plan documents and a new film including interviews with shop stewards are in the pipeline.

Please email us at info@breakingtheframe.org.uk if you are interested in helping with the project.

 

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4 Responses to Celebrating the Fortieth Anniversary of the Lucas Plan

  1. Mike George says:

    Hello, I’m an active member of St Albans District Green Party.

    I was, for 11 years, Coordinator of CAITS, the research & campaigning unit set up by the Combine Shop Stewards Committee – I recognise the pic as being at Wortley Hall near Sheffield.

    I’ve explained before that I’m not interested in the commemorative event, but am willing – if it’s useful – to provide input into any forward-looking campaign. Obviously this isn’t 1976 any more, but I did, and still do, think the Alternative Plan framework and approach make absolute sense in so many ways. Then, as now, it was a struggle to get TU bureaucracies to think outside the box; we also had strong (and creepy) opposition from the Special Branch. On the other hand quite a few shop stewards’ organisations came on board (in the UK and other countries). Unsurpringly, the Labour Party didn’t want to know…

    I won’t go on at this stage, just thought I should let you know I’m here.

  2. Dave King says:

    Dear Mike,
    Thanks very much for your comments- it’s great to hear from you: the continued activism of people involved in the Lucas Plan is one of the things that is inspiring me to pursue this project. The aim of the project is two-fold: to celebrate the anniversary, and simply inform new generations of activists who have not heard of it and cannot imagine trade unionists making such a fundamental challenge; and to use the anniversary as an opportunity to reopen the debate and deal with current issues, such as climate change as well as defence conversion. We would love to hear your thoughts on the latter.

    Dave King

  3. Mr S J Griffiths B312BU. says:

    I am Steve Griffiths I was on the East Birmingham District committee 1977-79.
    My factory Land Rover my Branch 391SE. That is of course the AUEW.
    We supported the Plan as best we new of it.
    It was a high level of proposals and was not reported to ordinary delegates unless
    Jack Gunter was allowed into the Tuesday Night Mtgs and we gained an insight
    into the goings on at National Leadership Level.
    Please keep me informed I live in Birmingham.

  4. Jonathan M. Feldman says:

    Here is a part of my research on defence firm conversion in the UK. I look forward to going to this conference and learning more about the history of this important initiative: https://www.epsjournal.org.uk/index.php/EPSJ/article/view/69

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