Celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Lucas Plan!


Veteran trade unionists and younger activists see Nobel prize-nominated plan as inspiration for the future

Leading figures from the left, trade union, environmental and peace movements are coming together at a conference on November 26th with a fresh perspective on tackling current crises, using the ideas of socially useful production pioneered in the Lucas Plan. The Plan, produced by workers at the Lucas Aerospace arms company, showed how jobs could be saved by converting to make products that answer a social need, rather than weapons. See www.lucasplan.org.uk, or the notes below for more information on the Lucas Plan.

The conference will focus on 5 key themes:

  • The Lucas Plan and socially useful production.lucas
  • Arms conversion and peace.
  • Climate change and a socially just transition to sustainability.
  • The threat to skills and livelihoods from automation.
  • Local/community economic and industrial planning.

Linking all these issues is the need to rethink how we can produce what people and society actually need and overcome corporate domination through their control of technology.

Highlights of the conference will include:

  • Talks by Phil Asquith, Brian Salisbury and Mick Cooney (Lucas Aerospace Shop Stewards Combine).
  • Screening of a new film on the Lucas Plan by Steve Sprung.

Contributions from: Chris Baugh (PCS), Suzanne Jeffery (Million Climate Jobs Campaign), Hilary Wainwright (Red Pepper), John McDonnell (tbc), Natalie Bennett, Molly Scott-Cato and Jonathan Essex (Green Party), Philip Pearson (TUC), Romayne Phoenix (People’s Assembly Against Austerity), Mary Pearson (Birmingham Trades Council), Manuel Cortes (TSSA, tbc), Mika Mino-Paluello (Global Justice Now), Philippa Hands (UNISON), Stuart Parkinson (Scientists for Global Responsibility), Dave Elliott (Open University), Liz Corbin (Institute of Making), Tony Simpson (Bertrand Russell Foundation), Dave King (Breaking the Frame), Simon Fairlie (The Land magazine), Karen Leach (Localise West Midlands), Marisol Sandoval (City University), Tom Unterrainer (Bertrand Russell Foundation), John Middleton (Medact), Gail Chester (Feminist Library), plus more speakers to be announced.

The conference on the Lucas Plan 40th anniversary will be held at Birmingham Voluntary Service Council (138 Digbeth, Birmingham, B5 6DR) on November 26, 2016. See www.lucasplan.org.uk. The conference is being organised and sponsored by: former members of the Lucas Aerospace Shop Stewards Combine, Breaking the Frame, PCS, UCU, Million Climate Jobs Campaign, Green Party, Scientists for Global Responsibility, Campaign Against Arms Trade, CND, Left Unity, Quaker Peace and Social Witness, Red Pepper, War on Want and Conference of Socialist Economists

Tickets are £10/£5 concessions: To book for the conference, visit

www.lucasplan.org.uk/tickets. For more information, email info@breakingtheframe.org.uk

BACKGROUND INFO: The Lucas Aerospace Shop Stewards Combine’s Alternative Corporate Plan (‘The Lucas Plan’) was launched in 1976 and became famous worldwide, sparking an international movement for socially useful production and workers’ plans. Facing the threat of redundancies, the Combine collected 150 ideas from shop floor workers about alternative socially useful products that could be produced by the company, instead of relying on military orders. Many of the innovations in the plan, such as hybrid car engines, heat pumps and wind turbines were commercially viable and are now in widespread use. Although the Alternative Plan was rejected by Lucas Aerospace managers, it was instrumental in protecting jobs at Lucas in the 1970s. The Combine was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and Mike Cooley received the Right Livelihood Award in 1982. More information about the Plan, including the 53-page summary of the five 200 page volumes, can be found on the conference website, www.lucasplan.org.uk.

Against dictatorship: statement from Solidarity with the People of Turkey

The state of emergency and the so-called ‘fight against terrorism’ in Turkey has been used to silence anybody calling for peace and democracyhdp

Late last night the homes of two joint leaders of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) were raided and both were arrested alongside 10 other MPs. Turkish police raided the Ankara home of HDP co-leader Selahattin Demirtaş and the house of co-leader Figen Yüksekdağ in Diyarbakır.

Both leaders have been playing a key role in bringing together people of Turkish and Kurdish origin against the war mongering divisive politics of the ruling government. HDP is the third largest party in Turkish parliament, with 59 sitting MPs. MPs are usually immune from prosecution, but the HDP’s immunity was controversially lifted earlier this year.

In the aftermath of the arrests, the Government blocked all access to social media across the country (including twitter, facebook and whatsapp).

Demonstrations have begun taking place in the UK against these latest attacks, with protestors congregating outside the BBC during the early hours of last night and this morning outside Downing Street. Further protests are being planned and updates will be provided in due course.

Supporters are urged to strengthen solidarity by writing to their local MPs, to the Turkish Embassy and to the Turkish Government.

Organisations/Trade Unions/Universities are asked to issue press releases /statements condemning the latest attacks on media freedom and democratically elected MPs.

As SPOT we are calling for an end to the state of emergency and for the release of all the HDP MPs arrested last night, as well as all opposition journalists, writers and academics arrested under the recent purge on opposition media outlets

In solidarity, SPOT (Solidarity with the People of Turkey)

5th of November – Call for Stewards for the Save Libraries March

Keith Martin writes:

Hi supporters of libraries, museums, galleries and all who work in them.

Attached is a letter in today’s Ham and High. It is published too in the Barnet Times and, I hope, in the Barnet Press and Camden New Journal, which has a wrap around publicising the National Libraries, Museums and Galleries demo on 5 November.

For this demo, which starts at 12 noon from The British Library and goes via The British Museum to the National Gallery, we shall have the Metropolitan Brass Band and the speakers include Michael Rosen. The march has a KIDS4LIBRARIES group.

The Metropolitimg_0001an Police are allowing us to march on the roads, but they are stretched for resources marshalling another demo the same day and advised us to recruit our own stewards. This we are doing, and our aim is to have thirty yellow-clad volunteer stewards to maintain all our health and safety.

If you are willing to be one of these thirty stewards, please email me your name and email address (keith.martin18@btinternet.com), and I shall see that you receive a briefing on what is required.

The aim of the demo is to stop the cuts to our library, museum and gallery services, and to save the jobs of all who work in them.

There is a national crisis, and we are determined to achieve these aims.

“Fighting tooth and nail” – a Barnet UNISON Film

John Burgess writes:

Whilst we have tried hard to support and represent our members the last 9 years have been painful, fun, tiring but invigorating but most of all it has been a privilege to have belonged to Barnet UNISON branch.

Austerity introduced mass outsourcing to our members and residents. I have never been prouder than when I have been at committee meetings with hundreds of residents or with residents with hundreds of questions.

Our members have had the courage to give it a go. To get up off our knees and at least stand up for what is right.

Sometimes we have lost and sometimes we have won, that is the way it is in Barnet UNISON.

But we can always look back and say that we have not gone missing.

We don’t leave anyone behind, even when we lost the big outsourcing to Capita and hundreds of our members were later made redundant as their jobs were scattered to the four winds. We stayed and supported, represented our members and we won some compensation for some of those who lost their jobs.

We can always say we didn’t avoid difficult decisions and we don’t run from a fight, we organise and we lead but always it must be the members who decide when and for how long we fight.

Outsourcing and job cuts has had a detrimental impact on worker and I have observed the workplace has become toxic environment. I point to the consultant’s catch phrase “More for less” as one of the most insidious and unhelpful jargon to emerge over the last decade.

“More for less” has in my opinion has contributed directly to “unsustainable and unsafe” work places; we are only just beginning to see the impact on workers mental health and wellbeing.

Over the past decade we have seen a high burn out of UNISON reps simply because the challenges and pressures that mass outsourcing brings are too much.

I have always believed in taking responsibility where you can and for me that has been in the London Borough of Barnet.

I have worked with so many wonderful and creative people both inside and outside UNISON. I have gained so much more from being in their company and most importantly listening and learning to what they have said or done.

It is in recognition of this experience and in an attempt to reflect on what has happened and think about my future and the future of the branch I have put together a film montage of the last decade in the life of Barnet UNISON. The film opens with Fremantle Care workers and campaign that shocked me and a campaign that still troubles me deeply nearly 9 years after it began. Their fight and the draconian cuts were later to be followed by the heroic Care UK 90 day strikers and our very own Your Choice Barnet care workers campaign.

Anyway enough from me.

The short film is just under 20 minutes long so make sure you have a nice drink, comfy seat you might have a few surprises from a few guest appearances.


From the LOCAL SCHOOLS NETWORK:  What ARK Schools represents for Barnet

ARK Schools [the company behind Ark Pioneer in Barnet] is in a class of its own.  It is by far the most successful and influential MAT, a ‘system leader trust’ that is constantly name-checked by ministers.  ARK’s King Solomon Academy, in Marylebone, has beenhailed as ‘the best non-selective school in Englanpicture-1367-1454849268d’.  The school serves an area with high levels of child poverty;  58% of its pupils are eligible for free school meals, and a significant number speak English as an additional language.  Last year’s exam results were indeed extraordinary:  93% of students achieved A* – C in five GCSEs.

The miracle was achieved using methods developed by American charter schools – more specifically, by the ‘charter management organisation’ known as KIPP (the Knowledge is Power Program).

ARK’s brand of ‘high quality inner city education’ is copied wholesale from KIPP.

It is not only a question of school culture, however.  Serious money has been put into securing the King Solomon Academy’s miraculous GCSE results.  At a time when the freezing of the education budget has left all schools facing afunding cut of around 8%, ARK academies are protected by the largesse of their sponsors.

A recent report by Schools Week claims that ARK Schools received £3.6 million of private funds last year – nearly £106,000 for each school in the chain.  In the brave new world of venture philanthropy, there is nothing wrong with using profits generated offshore – most hedge funds are domiciled outside the UK – to back a privately-controlled ‘network’ of schools, whose exam results are then held up as an example to defunded local authority schools.  After all, as the former chair of the ARK Schools board, Lord Fink, told the Evening Standard:  ‘everyone does tax avoidance at some level’
ARK has also been experimenting with computer-based instruction.

In 2018, the trust plans to open the Pioneer Academy, ‘a new all-through blended learning school with an emphasis on technology’.

ARK’s Pioneer Academy – to be built on a disused football ground in Barnet – will use a version of Rocketship’s ‘classroom rotation model’.  This, in turn, ‘includes four sub-models: Station Rotation, Lab Rotation, Flipped Classroom, and Individual Rotation’.

This  is literally cut and pasted from a paper put out in 2013 by  Christensen, a professor of business administration at Harvard who is the guru of blended learning, and a firm believer in its potential to ‘disrupt’ existing systems of public education.  He sees the shift to computer-based instruction as a means of ‘eradicating rules that restrict class size and student-teacher ratios’.

ARK told the TES,  that blended learning offers ‘an opportunity for revised teacher roles’;  the Pioneer Academy proposal notes that online learning will be combined with ‘instruction and input from the teaching assistant’.

Clayton Christensen’s view is that ‘computer-based learning on a large scale is less expensive than the current labour-intensive system, and could solve the financial dilemmas facing public schools’.
ARK told the TES that blended learning will ‘improve cost efficiency through both staffing and school design efficiencies’.


[Read the full Local Schools Network Article here]

[Public meeting details here]

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