John McDonnell’s Labour Conference commitment to put workers on company boards was met with predictable hostility from employer representatives. Yet Germany, the Scandinavian countries along with several other European states, have long standing policies for employee participation, even if it might not be as extensive (McDonnell proposes 30% representation). Likewise, allocating a proportion of company shares to employees, even establishing wealth funds, is pretty commonplace.
In reality, less than 1 in 3 are employed in companies large enough to be required to comply with Labour’s plans. It could also be argued that employees in larger companies already enjoy better conditions and trade union representation, though this does not mean that McDonnell’s proposals would not challenge economic privilege.
It’s some of the other Labour policies that will do most to improve the position of workers however. For example, the promise of a £10 minimum wage, legislation to drive out zero -hours contracts and provide basic rights for the growing number of ‘casualised’ staff are probably more significant. While adopting policies for a four-day week, even introducing some form of universal basic income, could also gain widespread support.