The History of England

from Celts through 20th century

Private monopolies bleed the nationalised industries

Category: Economy

Government price policy (operated by Labour and Tory alike) was the main instrument enabling the private monopo­lies to bleed the nationalised industries. There was no re­striction on the prices charged by private industry which has alleged to aim at reaching a profit of from 15 to 20 per cent on net assets. If any firm achieved still greater results this was alleged to be a product of superior efficiency.

On the other hand the governments (Labour as well as Tory) expected the nationalised industries to charge low prices so that they could only earn enough to cover their cost of production (including depreciation) and their inter­est charges. In short they were expected to earn a very meagre surplus indeed.

This meant that part of the surplus value of these industries was transferred to other industries in the form of low charges for services which gave the Tories an opportunity of denounc­ing the nationalised industries as unprofitable and refusing the workers of those industries justifiable increases in their wages.

Despite mismanagement by governments and older man­agerial elements it is clear that the nationalised industries are in good technical shape and can help considerably in a plan of national development, if the burdens resulting from excessive compensation and government inter­ference and mismanagement by the Tories are written off and new methods of management involving greater con­sultation with the workers are adopted.

The practice of treating the workers in these industries as “hands” must be abandoned. The workers must be given a real voice in the elaboration of the industries policy and not be presented by cut and dried schemes on a “take it or leave it basis”; the boards of the nationalised industries must have a majority representation of workers and techni­cians.

Comment, March 28, 1964

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