Profit sharing in the South Metropolitan Gas Company, 1889-1920
In 1889 the South Metropolitan Gas Company set up a profit sharing scheme. This was instituted in the same year as the Gas Workers Union and a concurrent dispute in South Met.'s works. The scheme and its relationship to unionisation need to be explored.\ud \ud Throughout its history the gas industry had been engaged in a dialogue about its policies on profit and price with both central and local government. Within the London gas industry South Met., under a management dominated by George Livesey after 1871, had an innovatory and often contentious role.\ud \ud The profit sharing scheme continued and flourished in South Mat. and was widely copied throughout the industry. A consultative process was set up which was extended to cover direct elections to the Board by the workforce.\ud \ud The scheme was used by the Company in such a way as to impose a discipline on the workers which was designed not only to limit their behaviour in the workplace but to incorporate them into the property owning structure and the prevailing value system.\ud \ud In a wider setting it can be seen as an attempt by a statutory Company to alter its nature within the context of the joint stock system to extend its base so as to meet criticisms concerning the private ownership of a public utility.\ud \ud This thesis will argue that George Livesey's concern with the conflicts of society as he saw them led him to use the mechanism of the sliding scale, originally concerned with gas pricing, to build what he saw as a partnership between capitalists, customers and workers.
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