Remaking workplace trade unionism, 1968–75

in Assembling cultures
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In the eyes of motor firms, industrial-relations experts and politicians, the industrial relations that emerged in the 1960s were extremely disruptive, imposing unplanned wage costs and generating unnecessary strikes.

The large car companies resolved to fix their problems via productivity bargaining, where pay rises would be swapped for improved efficiency and continuous production. De-centralised shop-floor bargaining would be swapped for centralised national agreements, reducing conflict.

With their sectional autonomy curtailed, car-worker activists responded by reinforcing central institutions, adding larger disputes and new tactics to their repertoire. These new forms of collective social power affected the ways that individual car workers could see the world, enabling a modest (but contested) form of politicisation to emerge.

Assembling cultures

Workplace activism, labour militancy and cultural change in Britain’s car factories, 1945–82



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