Document ReferenceIWC
TitleRecords of the Institute for Workers' Control
Extent21 boxes
AbstractRecords compiled by the Secretary for the Institute for Workers' Control, plus publications produced by the Institutue.
Access ConditionsPending full cataloguing, access is limited and is possible only by advance notice and agreement.
Admin HistoryIn 1968, the Institute for Workers Control was formally established at its sixth annual conference,"to assist in the formation of Workers' Control groups dedicated to the development of democratic consciousness, to the winning of support for Workers' Control in all the existing organisations of Labour, to the challenging of undemocratic actions wherever they may occur, and to the extension of democratic control over industry and the economy itself, by assisting the unification of Workers' Control groups into a national force in the socialist movement" (according to the IWC Aims and Constitution). Prior to that it had been a series of conferences organised by Tony Topham (Workers Educational Association Organising Tutor and Director of the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation) and University of Nottingham Adult Education tutor, Ken Coates (Chair of the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation and MEP). The conferences, many of which were held at the University of Nottingham, often involved a weekend residential with entertainment such as a play or musical performance. The Institute aimed to bring together trade unionists from difference industries, including print/journalists/media, dockers, miners, etc. In his article on the history of the IWC for the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Labour History Society, Alan Tuckman describes the IWC as "a network drawing in and relating all these divergent organisations and interests. At its centre were the shop stewards, and shop steward combine committees, across companies and industries to discuss current issues, as well as to engage in some ‘blue sky’ thinking".

Audrey Wise (Labour MP and speaker at the First National Women's Liberation Conference) became IWC Chair, and Labour MP, Tony Benn, was a pivotal figure in the IWC and a regular at their conferences (the IWC supported him in his attempt at leadership of the Labour Party). The IWC operated from an office in Gamble Street, which it rented from the Bertrand Russell Foundation. Income from subscriptions allowed the Institute to publish, through the Foundation's Spokesman Books imprint, 94 pamphlets in the IWC series and a quarterly (sometimes more frequent) bulletin.

This collection represents the activities of Ken Fleet (-2000), Secretary of the Institute for Workers' Control, in publishing, and organising meetings, workshops and conferences. Ken Fleet had moved to Nottingham for national service, later training in accountancy and working as senior accountant for the textile company, Courtaulds. He enrolled in a class at the Nottingham Workers' Educational Association in the mid-1960s and was taught by Ken Coates who asked him to help move the Bertrand Russell Foundation to Nottingham (it had been established in London in 1963). Ken Fleet was Secretary of the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation from 1969 until his death in 2020. According to the obituary written by Tony Simpson (published in The Guardian on 11 May 2020), Ken Fleet was particularly proud of securing Ron Todd, General Secretary of the Transport and General Workers' Union, to speak at the IWC 'What Went Wrong' conference at Nottingham in 1980, following Labour's defeat in the 1979 general election. Ken also worked as Ken Coates' parliamentary assistant from his election in 1989 as a Member of the European Parliament, until Coates' defeat in 1999 following his expulsion from the Labour Party.
Custodial HistoryThe records were transferred to the University in 2021 by the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation following the Foundation's move from Bulwell to offices in Colwick.
DescriptionA proportion of the publications of the Institute for Workers' Control are present in the first two series of the collection, namely issues 1-31 of the Workers Control Bulletins (from October 1973 to Feb/March 1976), and a number of pamphlets from the IWC Pamphlet series (some are missing and there are some duplicates/later impressions present of some issues); there are also a small number of other related pamphlets. Topics covered include industrial democracy, the Labour Party, trade unions, incomes and rising prices, farm workers, steel workers, miners, and dock workers.

The bulk of the collection consists of the records of the Institute for Workers' Control, compiled by the Secretary, Ken Fleet. The records consist primarily of meeting papers (minutes, and admin concerned with arranging conferences and workshops) but there are also correspondence, accounts, etc. Subjects of conferences/events include the Power Workers dispute, miners, car workers, Free Collective Bargaining Workers' Control Accountability Conference, etc.; other campaigns mentioned in the file titles include the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy, and the Tony Benn campaign for Deputy Leadership of the Labour Party.

The files are likely to be use to labour historians and historians of the environmental movement (in terms of the Lucas Plan and socially necessary production). They would also be of use to anyone researching the role of the IWC/trade unions/shop stewards, with material also relating to workplace occupations supprt, the fight against unemployment, industrial disputes, promotion of co-operatives, socially necessary production, and campaigns against public sector cuts. There are also materials regarding the Labour Party, especially the politics of Tony Benn and the left within the Labour Party.
MgtGroupTrade Union and Trade Associations
ArrangementThe collection is currently arranged into three series:
IWC/1: Bound volume of Workers Control Bulletins, Nos. 1-31, October 1973 to Feb/March 1976
IWC/2: IWC Pamphlet series 1-35, plus sundry related pamphlets
IWC/3: Records of the Institute for Workers' Control, compiled by the Secretary, Ken Fleet. The files may in future be arranged in order of workshop/event.

As the files contain many membership lists, ACCESS IS CURRENTLY RESTRICTED to material in IWC/3 until further cataloguing work has taken place, though it may be possible to arrange access to certain items with advance notice and agreement.
Works councils
Industries--Social aspects--Great Britain
Unemployment--Great Britain
Labor unions
Labour Party (Great Britain), leadership
Strikes and lockouts--Great Britain
Great Britain - Politics and government - 20th century
Management -- Employee participation
Management -- Great Britain -- Employee participation
FindingAidsThis description is the only finding aid available for the collection. Copyright in the description belongs to The University of Nottingham.
ReprodnNoteReprographic copies can be supplied for educational and private study purposes only, depending on access status and the condition of the documents.
Related MaterialPapers of Ken Coates (1930-2010) special professor of Adult Education at the University of Nottingham, sociologist and politician. (Ref. KCS)
Ken Coates Collection of printed books (Ref. KCC)
Related RecordKCC
Publication NoteSpokesman Books catalogue of publications by the Institute for Workers' Control: accessed 25/01/2022
Bulletin of the Institute for Workers' Control. Nottingham, Eng. : Institute for Workers' Control. Hallward Library UNASSIGNED location Periodicals:H Vol 1(4)-2(10),Oct-Dec 1969-73 Wants: 2(1-4,9)
Obituary for Ken Fleet written by Tony Simpson, published in The Guardian on 11 May 2020; accessed 25/01/2022
The story of the Institute for Workers' Control (IWC)' by Alan Tuckman, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Labour History Society Newsletter September 2020, East Midlands Collection Digital Content
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