Meidner Plan

The Meidner Plan was an economic plan concocted in 1970s Sweden, within a specific context of widespread wage restraint (to try to keep a lid of inflation) resulting in major corporations laughing all the way to the bank with their gangbuster profits. Effectively, the plan was that some proportion of profits would be compulsorily directed to buying out shares for “wage-earner funds”, which would be democratically operated so the working class, effectively, would exert control over corporations through their shareholdership. (In this way, it would be very different from Australia’s system of superannuation, where workers have no democratic say over companies’ direction through the shares they own through their superannuation port­fo­lios.) An individual fund would cover a broad swathe of industry and not just an individual company (so workers of less profitable companies wouldn’t end up owning a lesser share of capital than workers at more profitable companies). As companies continued to be profitable over time, an ever greater and greater share of them would come to be owned by the wage-earner funds, until eventually industry was effectively all worker-owned.

The plan failed to be implemented, largely because a right-wing government came into power in the 1970s and scrapped the whole idea. When re-elected in the 1980s, the social democrats implemented a severely watered-down version of the plan by which workers’ ownership of shares wouldn’t give them any say in how companies are run (more like Australian superannuation), and when the right-wingers got back into government again in the early 90s they privatised even that.

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