Worker Self-Management is a form of workplace decision-making in which the employees themselves agree on choices (for issues like customer care, general production methods, scheduling, division of labour etc.) instead of the traditional authoritative supervisor telling workers what to do, how to do it and where to do it.
Also known as autogestion, workers' self-management is often the decision-making model used in co-operative economic arrangements such as worker cooperatives, workers' councils, and in participatory economics, and similar arrangements where the workplace operates without a boss.
Critics argue that consulting all employees for every tiny issue is time consuming, inefficient and thus ineffective. However, as seen real world examples only large-scale decisions are made by all employees during a council meeting and small decisions are made by those implementing them while coordinating with the rest and following more general agreements.
Autogestion was first theorized by Pierre-Joseph Proudhon during the first part of the 19th century. It then became a primary component of trade unions organizations, in particular concerning revolutionary syndicalism. French trade-union CFDT ("Confédération Française Démocratique du Travail") included worker self-management in its 1970 program, before abandoning it afterward. The ideas of workers' self-management are still famously advanced by the IWW.
The most complete experience of workers' self-management took place during the Spanish Revolution (1936-1939).
In the 1950s, Titoist Yugoslavia claimed during the Cold War to choose a socialist autogestion way, which led to his break with Moscow. The economy of Yugoslavia was organized according to the theories of Tito and Milovan Đilas.
In France, between 1970 and 1973, Lip, a clockwork factory based in Besançon, was self-managed after an attempt by share-holders to close it down. CFDT trade-unionist Charles Piaget led the strike allowing workers to claim back the means of production. The Unified Socialist Party (PSU), which included former Radical Pierre Mendès-France, was in favour of autogestion or self-management.
In the 1970s, the Spanish Legitimist Carlist movement split among the supporters of Don Carlos Hugo's new Carlist Party, confederalist and autogestionary, and his brother Sixto Enrique de Borbón' Carlist Traditionalist Communion, extreme-right.
In October 2005 the first Encuentro Latinoamericano de Empresas Recuperadas ("Latin American Encounter of Recovered Companies") took place in Caracas, Venezuela, with representatives of 263 such companies from different countries living similar economical and social situations. The meeting had, as its main outcome, the Compromiso de Caracas (Caracas' Commitment); a vindicating text of the movement.
Throughout the 1990s in Argentina's southern province of Neuquén, drastic economic and political events occurred where the citizens ultimately rose up. Although the first shift occurred in a single factory, bosses were progressively fired throughout the province so that by 2005 the workers controlled everything. Documenting the most recent economic and political situation in Neuquén, Yeidy Rosa has written an article detailing the complexities of worker self management and how it came to be in Argentina.
In the wake of the 2001 economic crisis, about 200 Argentine companies were "recovered" by their workers and turned into co-operatives. Prominent examples include the Brukman factory, the Hotel Bauen and FaSinPat (formerly known as Zanon). As of 2005, about 15,000 Argentine workers run recovered factories.
- Ceylon Transport Board
- Direct democracy
- Recovered factories
- Unified Socialist Party (France)
- Socialist Party USA
- Workplace democracy
- 1871 Paris Commune
- The Mondragón Corporation, probably the world's largest self-managed enterprise