I am not unsympathetic to Labour's idea of allowing workers to participate in company profits but I wonder about the practicalities in the hatest proposals. The Guardian reports:
Employee ownership schemes in large companies could result in almost 11 million workers being given up to £500 a year each, in plans to be expanded upon by the shadow chancellor on Monday.
Under Labour’s plans, legislation would require private sector companies with 250 or more employees to transfer at least 1% of their ownership into an IOF [inclusive ownership fund] each year, up to a maximum of 10%. Smaller companies would be able to set up an IOF on a voluntary basis.
Labour calculates that 10.7 million people – or 40% of the private sector workforce – will initially be covered by the scheme. Dividend payouts will be made at a flat rate to all employees. The funds will be held and managed collectively and their shares cannot be sold or traded. Workers’ fund representatives will have voting rights in companies’ decision-making processes in the same way as other shareholders.It is perhaps worth noting that companies do not in themselves normally own shares - shareholders do. How then is it possible for companies to transfer 1% of their ownership into a separate fund? Would companies forcibly divest each of their shareholders of 1% of their shareholdings? Or would they buy back 1% of their shares on the open market? Or would they create an additional 1% of their shares? Each of these options has technical and political difficulties - the stock exchange has a myriad of rules on such matters. I pity the parliamentary draftsmen who would have to prepare the legislation.
Eleven million workers being given £500 per year each in dividends amounts to an annual total of £5.5 billion. Given that this would amount to only 1% of the total dividends, that would imply total annual dividends of £550 billion from the companies involved. Is that a realistic expectation, given that full year prediction for UK company dividends in 2018 amount to less than £100 billion?
Perhaps we willl learn more when Mr McDonnell delivers his speech ...