So the Tories have announced their intention of creating ‘worker co-operatives’ within the public sector. Appart from a ploy to woo Labour supporters, what is behind this lurch to the left (if you can call it that)?
Under Tory proposals, staff of taxpayer-funded services such as primary schools, and nursing teams etc would enjoy the freedom to decide how they are run. According to the Guardian, George Osborne has described this as:
“the biggest shift of power to workers since Margaret Thatcher introduced the right to buy council houses in the 1980s”.
All admirable, quite a thing to place the decision making, and day to day running of services in the hands of those who provide the services – Front line staff. However what does this actually mean? How accountable will these “co-operatives” be? Take primary schools for example, what would this mean? Would each individual “co-operative” be responsible for the curriculum, teacher’s pay etc?
On the issue of accountability, who gets a say over these co-operatives? How would an individual become a member of a co-operative?
What seems to be happening here is an attempt to introduce privitisation of public services through the guise of “worker ownership”.
George Osborne said on Radio 4’s Today programme:
“This is as big a transfer of power to working people since the sale of council house homes in the 1980s”.
However what happened in the right to buy scheme? Public housing ceased to be and came into the ownership of private citizens, who have made massive profits from it.