In the 1970s in the UK the Lucas Aerospace company was a large industrial firm which included the manufacture of defence and
aerospace systems. During the First World War it made shells and fuses, as well as electrical equipment for military vehicles
(Wikipedia). In 1976 the workforce were facing significant layoffs. The Lucas Plan was developed by the workforce under the
guidance of an unofficial trade union body, known as the Combine. After consulting the then secretary of state for industry, Tony
Benn, they were told to plan what to make instead of weapons systems. (The Guardian, 2018). The ideas contributed were
whittled down to 150 products, each one deemed to be socially useful and environmentally friendly, such as wind turbines, and
energy-efficient heat pumps. This plan created momentum in interest from around the world at the time. Forty years on, the
products put forward by the Combine in their worker’s plan are now mainstream.
The International Trade Union Confederation highlighted a Just Transition strategy at the UN climate talks in Paris in 2015.
The global one million climate jobs campaign led by trade unions is an attempt to start the transition by creating jobs that lower
greenhouse gas emissions. A transitional programme could include building wind turbines, , retrofitting and insulating homes and
buildings to make them more fuel efficient, investment in integrated public transport networks run on clean fuel, and provide
workers with the training and skills needed for a zero carbon economy. Sam Mason . New Lucas Plan. 2016
There are talks in the UK for a New Lucas Plan to develop plans for a new and democratically controlled economy, based on the
Lucas Aerospace workers’ idea of socially useful production.
A recent example is that of a research and development facility at a North Wales aircraft factory which was converted in a matter
of weeks to an assembly line producing components for up to 15,000 ventilators for the NHS. Hilary Wainwright, Red Pepper.
June 2020
There are other ways to use the skills and capabilities of workers and avoid weapons manufacture. To be socially productive and
create zero emissions.