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John Lewis economy: another fantasy from Corporal Clegg
Lib Dem leader and deputy prime minister Nick Clegg has outlined his vision of a 'John Lewis economy' saying that businesses owned by their staff are more dynamic and have higher morale.
For former factory workers in a Carlisle textile and dyeing company, this must sound like a sick joke.
The factory had been part of the John Lewis Partnership since 1965, and many of the workers had been there for decades. However, the 'partnership' decided the factory was no longer viable and had to be sold on. One of the workers explained to us that John Lewis called a consultation meeting, but "We were textile workers up against professionals. I asked the personnel head: If we are all co-owners, what part of the business do we own? He replied: 'Tough decisions have to be made.'"
The factory was sold on to Stead McAlpin, and in April 2009 60 of the workers were sacked, but did not receive the enhanced redundancy payments they would have been entitled to if they'd still worked for John Lewis.
At the time of being sacked the workers told us that John Lewis always referred to the partnership as a democracy: "but it was only a democracy until their profits were threatened - then there was an inner steel ring to defend: big pensions; big salaries and big pay-offs for the bosses."
If this is the best vision of capitalism on offer for workers it's time to look for an alternative!