Tag Archives: employee ownership

The Liberal Plan for Worker Co-Ownership

During the 2018 Labour Conference delegates passed a policy motion in which the workers of any given company would be entitled to own 10% of its stock. This, on the face of it, is not something that liberals would be entirely against. Indeed, it was David Lloyd George who, in 1908, settled a rail strike by creating boards which were formed between worker groups and the bosses on an equal parity – 50% worker, 50% bosses. The whole idea of worker cooperatives is also something which we in the Liberal Democrats are in full support, with Nick Clegg saying that he wished to create a “John Lewis economy” as late as 2012. If we look a little deeper, but not by much, we see what Labour’s plan truly is.

There is an insidious proviso in that policy. The stock dividend is capped at £500 per annum. This means that if a stock pays over this dividend, say £600, the state is then entitled to take £100 straight from the pocket of the worker. That money will then be used, presumably, for whatever this new government wishes, be that rail nationalisation or lost to the financial black hole that is the current NHS. Additionally, these stocks cannot be bought and sold. This, of course, means that the worker cannot expand their portfolio to include a wide range of investments in other newly formed cooperatives and, instead, simply leads to the creation of closed shops on a scale heretofore unseen. In short – this plan is nothing short of state mandated theft.

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Lord Dick Newby writes…Action on employee ownership shows Liberal Democrat values in action

Westfield Stratford City - John LewisI’ve just returned from the second of two events marking Employee Ownership Day. Employee ownership is one of those worthy but rather dull sounding policy ideas which has been in our Manifestos from time immemorial, but like motherhood and apple pie, has a comforting rather than inspiring air.

What this Government has done about employee ownership however, deserves rather more attention. In 2012 Norman Lamb appointed Graeme Nuttall,

Posted in Op-eds | 15 Comments

Lib Dems step up plans for more employee ownership

A press release from BIS brings the news:

Responding to recommendations made by Graeme Nuttall in his independent review of the sector, the Government has approved plans for a range of activity that will help to grow the number of businesses that become or convert to the employee ownership model.

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Employee share ownership – open letter to Vince Cable and Nick Clegg

We, the undersigned, are extremely concerned by the employee share ownership policy. We call for this bill to be amended to remove the part where workers have to give up their rights for share-ownership and, rather, for the proposal to mirror that agreed by the Liberal Democrat conference in this document.

The proposal appears to allow for workers to give up their rights in return for company shares, as detailed on the HM Treasury website:

Under the new type of contract, employees will be given between £2,000 and £50,000 of shares that are exempt from capital gains tax. In exchange, they

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Vince Cable MP writes… My view on George Osborne’s employee ownership scheme

Last week at the Conservative Party conference the Chancellor announced a new equity ownership scheme. His proposed scheme, targeted at small companies, is entirely voluntary and cannot be forced upon employees. It would offer employees shares (from £2,000 to £50,000) in their business in exchange for certain employment rights. The shares are Capital Gains Tax free – which if the company grows extremely fast is a valuable offer.

The scheme has had a mixed reaction. However a few

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Osborne: Employees, exchange your rights for shares

In the Tory hothouse of Birmingham, this has to be the most delicate flower which has bloomed so far. Politicshome.com reports:

Employees could be able to buy shares in the companies they work for if they give up their employment rights, George Osborne has said.

In a speech to the Conservative party conference the Chancellor announced a consultation on the plan, which could also see the shares being immune to capital gains tax.

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The Independent View: Employee ownership makes economic sense

While Labour and the Tories debate how to reinvigorate their annual party conference programme, the Liberal Democrats democratic policymaking structure means that debates at their conference remain engaging and relevant. And with the party now in Government, the journey from the Conference floor to the statute book is rather more direct than has previously been the case.

This means that over the next few weeks, the Lib Dem gathering in Brighton is the most likely place for progressive yet plausible policy ideas to get a hearing. The Social Liberal Forum’s motion 106 on employee ownership, to be debated on Monday 24th September from 09:05-11:05, is a particularly good example. The motion calls for a number of radical measures relating to the stewardship of large companies (>250 employees) including:

• The right for employees of listed companies to request 5% of company shares
• A role for employee representatives in major corporate decisions, including conditions of employment; Director’s pay; and the strategic direction of the company
• The right for companies to implement German-style two-tier board structures, with a supervisory board (including a shareholder’s representative) and a management board (including a worker’s representative).

Posted in Conference, Op-eds and The Independent View | Also tagged and | 6 Comments

Norman Lamb MP writes…Employee ownership: moving from niche to mainstream

I’ve written about employee ownership on these pages before – but today am doing so from a very different position. As the Coalition’s minister for employment relations, employee ownership is part of my remit. I’ve gone from being an enthusiastic advocate of greater employee ownership, to being the Liberal Democrat minister responsible for delivering it.

Posted in Op-eds | 3 Comments

Opinion: Clegg should look to Gladstone and Grimond, not John Lewis

Nick Clegg’s Mansion House speech on “a more responsible capitalism” gathered publicity, particularly for his widely-reported call for employees to be given the right to ask for shares in the company they work for. I am still puzzling over how people can be given a right they already have. Anyone can ask for shares at present, of course, but with no guarantee of an answer.

It would be meant something if Nick had called for employees to have the right to be given shares in their companies when they asked.   It would have meant even more if he could have …

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Opinion: Is a “John Lewis economy” a liberal economy?

Nick Clegg hit the headlines last Monday in a speech at a CentreForum/City of London event calling for a “John Lewis economy” . John Lewis is employee owned where employees get a bonus each year depending on the performance of the group. Last year  this led to every employee getting an 18% bonus on their salary. But they do not hold individual shares in the company and so do not have the associated direct potential of building up substantial asset ownership .

I, along with most liberals judging by the reaction on Lib Dem Voice, warmly welcomed the substance …

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Employee ownership: Some thoughts from a former John Lewis partner

Nick Clegg’s speech on Monday was a welcome contribution to the debate about the changes we want to make to our economy following the financial crisis. That the economic boom of the decade leading up to the 2008 bust was unsustainable is a proposition that hardly needs putting, yet the broader debate about how to avoid such a situation in the future (if indeed we think it worth avoiding) is a topic that is largely undiscussed. My own view is that we need a serious discussion about how we measure economic health, because if the last few years showed …

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Our time to lead the debate: Employee ownership

In the debate on so-called crony capitalism two things are clear. First there is genuine and widespread anger at corporate greed and irresponsible capitalism. Second, politicians from the left have been groping around, without much success, trying to come up with convincing responses. Ed Miliband drew a distinction between producers and predators. But he failed to offer any answers.

We see power and wealth concentrated in the hands of the few – the benefits of success going to those at the top rather than being fairly shared between all those who generated that wealth. Even worse, company bosses too often get …

Posted in News, Op-eds and Party policy and internal matters | Also tagged | 10 Comments
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