What do bosses do?
Scheduling – Deciding when work needs to be done. Setting
deadlines. This could just as easily be done by the workers
Co-ordinating - Making sure that activities which depend on
each other don’t hold each other up. Making sure resources
are distributed to those who need them. Often, the centralised
control of resources is more of a bottleneck that keeps people
from getting what they need to do their jobs. Much of this is
actually done informally by the workers ourselves.
Accounting – This is a clerical job, counting the money we
make for them.
Budgeting – The actual work is done by those who do the
work and only compiled by the manager. The manager then
Staffing – Hiring, firing and assigning people to tasks.
The less work a boss does the more they are paid! This is
because they are not paid for doing actual work. They are paid
for how well they get others to do the most work for the least
compensation. It also happens because bosses tend to use
their power to make themselves richer.
What do Stockholders (Capitalists) do?
Capitalists buy part of a company (“stock” is a measure of
ownership) and receive a part of the value of what its workers
produce (profit taken from workers is called “stock dividend”) or
they rent their money to a company by buying bonds and are
paid “interest.” They do not work for this money outside of the
kind of brainwork a thief would use in choosing an easy victim.
Where do profits come from?
The cost of running a business is the money spent for labour,
machinery and tools, materials, rent, utilities, interest on loans,
maintenance, and other services. The value of labour is the
difference between the income of the business and its nonlabour
expenses. Profit is the difference between the labour
value and the money the boss actually pays the workers in
salary and benefits.
A boss’s performance is usually measured by how much
profit they can squeeze out of us. Many are paid in stock
capital or profit-sharing to make them more greedy.
Having a boss is a dictatorship.
Modern bureaucracy was invented in Nazi Germany by a guy
named Max Weber who patterned it after a military chain-of command.
Failure to follow orders results in discipline or being
Modern production was invented by Henry Ford who wanted
to reduce the actions of the workers to the repetitive motions of
machines and Frederick Taylor who wanted to minimise the
number of motions to maximise the “productivity” of each
worker. Bosses design work tasks to dehumanise workers.
Many workplaces make you work overtime. Many workers
are paid a fixed salary (instead of by the hour) so they can be
worked as much as the boss likes without paying them for
Most workplaces discourage dissent, worker organising or
even asking questions of management outside of how to follow
Many workplaces pretend to involve workers in decision
making to get them to spy on each other.
Many workplaces spy on their workers using time clocks,
computer programs, hidden cameras, informers, and even
private detectives. Some workplaces even limit the number of
times and amount of time we can spend going to the toilet!
Many workplaces now make us wear uniforms.
Bosses are inefficient!
Many managers create unnecessary work or make you redo
work “their way” just to satisfy their job or to make you think
you have to go through them to get your work done.
Many managers create “empires” of things under their
centralised control so you can’t get resources or information
you need to do your day-to-day work. Without a boss, access
to these crucial resources would be decentralised and made
available based on need.
Bosses can get you killed!
Work is one of the leading causes of death from accidents
and health problems.
Accidents occur when your boss tries to speed-up the work to
increase their profit.
Bosses try to cut costs by cutting safety measures and
practices on the job.
Jobs can be stressful due to overwork, harassment,
competition, scheming, manipulation, etc. by bosses and coworkers
who think they can kiss ass to get ahead.
Stress will hurt your health, weaken your body and ultimately shorten
“Accidents at work kill people, but bad working conditions are
But workers need to be told what to do?
Workers get together on the job informally all the time to talk
about how to do a job or solve a problem on the job. We don’t
ask the boss because s/he doesn’t know how to do the work.
Workers regularly get together with friends or family
members to make decisions without the need for a boss. We
go out to have a good time together. We plan holidays and
road trips. We make “management” decisions all the time
about our home and personal life.
But bosses go to school to learn how to be
Actually, most of them don’t have degrees in business
administration or public administration (MBA, MPA). Master’s
Degree programs in these fields teach accounting and
Capitalist economics, but you wont learn anything about
people or problem-solving which you don’t already know from
experience. What you learn is management and motivational
theory: how to exploit people through psychology. Most
managers (bosses) just have business degrees, at best, which
is a degree in Capitalism: Banking, Accounting, Profiteering,
But bosses create jobs…
The boss only hires and fires us. Jobs are created because
the boss sees a chance to get richer, but the amount of work
involved is greater than what those who currently work for the
boss can do alone. Bosses will do anything possible to avoid
hiring new workers including assigning more tasks to each
worker (“work speed-ups”), buying machines to take workers
jobs and paying overtime. Overtime costs a boss less than
hiring a new worker, but the workers who work overtime
actually get paid less than that additional work after they pay
tax (it may even increase their tax rate).
But my boss is “nice”…
Don’t trust them!
A boss is a boss is a boss is a boss… …!
The boss knows that their job depends on being able to
exploit us. We can depend on them only to tell us what we
want to hear. The boss you think you know and “trust” is a
If you work hard, they will work you harder.
If we do a good job at work, they will criticise the quality of
our work then take credit for it from their boss. They will use
our work to get themselves a promotion.
If there is a problem at work, they will tell their boss it’s your
I you know more than your boss, they will try to get you fired
or harass you so that you will quit or make mistakes they can
use against you to get you fired. They will tell you things like “I
want to help you” or “you are overqualified”. When you hear
this, you will know the end is near.
But what if the boss is the owner?
First of all, most small businesses are usually owned by the
bank (through a mortgage or small business loan) and a
landlord (most are in rented commercial property) who collect
money from you through your boss for doing nothing.
It is arguable that many small business “owners”/operators
work harder than if they were working for someone else, but
the chances are, even if they do, they still don’t pay their
workers for the full value of the work their workers do. The
best evidence of this is that while you have to catch a taxi to
work, the boss owns a car. While you have to rent or share a
room, the boss has a house. Obviously, you can’t afford to live
like your boss and even the hardest working boss doesn’t do
that much more than you do, to be equal to the difference in
the money each of you get out of the business.
But, if I work hard and do what I’m told, I can
be rich and successful…
People who work hard and are smart at what they do are
usually viewed as a threat by their boss because they probably
know as much or more about the work than those in charge.
Working for a boss isn’t competitive. Chances are, if your
boss want’s to hire or promote someone, they will chose
someone they think is like them or a friend, regardless of their
Take a look around you. How many rich people do you see?
There aren’t a lot compared to the rest of us. Now, common
sense tells us that if you subtract the majority of rich people
who only inherited their money, there are only a handful left
and they all got their money from owning stock or property and
not from honest work. At best, hard work can make you
comfortable. At worst, it will make you sick and your boss rich!
The best way to insure that you are working for yourself is to
have no boss at all!
HOW WOULD WE WORK WITHOUT
How are decisions made?
We are organised into working groups based on what we do
(our tasks). Decisions are made democratically by those who
do the work.
Each group sends a representative (called a delegate) to
co-ordinating meetings for their section of the workplace. Each
section co-ordinating committee sends a delegate to the coordinating
committee for the workplace.
Delegates can be changed at any time by the group who
chooses them. The delegates have no authority over the
Conflicts are resolved through mediation and arbitration by
someone neutral and impartial.
How is work organised?
Without a boss you don’t have to wait for the them to OK
everything, you just agree with your co-workers what needs to
be done. We decide for ourselves which jobs we wish to learn.
Co-ordinating Committees co-ordinate scheduling and the
allocation of group resources to projects. It is also how
working groups share information and find out what’s going on
at the workplace.
The workplace co-ordinating committee co-ordinates
budgeting and major functions like accounting, purchasing and
sales so that production is based on demand for the products
or services of the workplace.
New workers are brought into a workplace when the current
workers agree that more people are needed.
How are workers paid?
The workers decide how much of the income earned by their
work goes to keep the business going and how much goes to
them as compensation for their labour.
Without “make work” from bosses, every job becomes
equally necessary: both physical and brain work. The workers
may choose to each take an equal share or to pay everyone
based on how many hours they work.
Without stockholders and overpaid bosses, more money
goes to those who actually do the work.
What about benefits?
Without bosses, we are no longer considered “expendable.”
Medical Care, Dental Care, Child Care, Disability, Vacation
Time, Sick Time and Retirement are considered part of the
cost of maintaining the workplace and are paid for out of the
earnings of the workplace.
The workplace also covers the cost of your tools, safety
equipment and training.
What about promotions?
Tasks are assigned based on our skills and abilities: what we
know and can do. There is no “kissing ass” because no one
tells anyone else what to do and people are paid based on
their work and not their position.
We learn on-the-job how to do more and more complex
tasks. Self-managed workplaces have
apprenticeship/internship procedures for new workers.
The only “promotion” is in the area to responsibility. Since no
one is in-charge, the working group gives the most
responsibility to those they trust. The reward is personal
satisfaction and respect.
What about shirkers?
By doing away with the real parasites in the workplace
(bosses), we have a lot more people to do the work and we
can reduce the amount of work everyone has to do to be
productive. This means that the workday can be shorter and
more flexible and that work won’t be as strenuous. People can
also choose to work part time.
Without a boss, the stress at work will be lower.
Shirking is usually a subconscious response to being
exploited. Without exploitation, there will be less incentive to
shirk off work.
Those who still want to stand by and let their co-workers do
the work while they do nothing will be stealing from us. It is up
to us to decide if and when someone’s laziness is unfair to the
rest of us. Workers who try to live off the work of others while
doing nothing will be kicked out of the job at the discretion of
A BRIEF HISTORY OF WORKER SELFMANAGEMENT
Syndicalism in Italy – The federation of the Italian Bottle-
Blowers was organised in 1901. It opened its first co-operative
glass factory at the end of 1902 in Milan, using money raised
by the workers themselves, to provide work for 150 striking
workers. The co-operative bought or built factories in Livorno,
Imola, Sesto-Calendo and Asti, and leased another near
Naples. By 1906 it employed 2000 workers, its factories were
worth 750 000 Lira and it earned 300 000 Lira more than it
spent. Syndicalism in Italy was weakened when workers were
sent to fight WW1 and was later destroyed by the Fascist
Anarchist Communes in the Ukraine – When the
Bolsheviks withdrew Russia from WW1, they agreed to give
the Ukraine to the Germans and Austrians. By 1921, Anarchist
partisans organised by Nestor Makhno expelled the occupying
armies, defeated a Polish and Ukrainian nationalist counterrevolution
and freed a region north of the Crimea. Large
estates in this region that were taken over and operated by
former peasants under Anarchist influence prospered, while
areas where estates were looted because there was no
Anarchist presence fell on hard times and looked to the
Anarchist communal farming villages as a model of prosperity.
Anarchist partisans fought a guerrilla war against the Red
Army after the Bolsheviks began to force all Unions and
collectives under the control of the Bolshevik dictatorship. The
Bolsheviks later returned many large estates to their former
Anarcho-Syndicalism in Spain – In 1936, a right wing coup
attempt in Spain was foiled when Union members mobilised
popular militias to resist them. When war broke out, factory
and land owners fled the country leaving workers to run them
for themselves. In areas controlled by the Anarchist CNT
(National Confederation of Labour), 5 692 202 Hectares of
large estates were communalised by the former peasant
tenants into 1750 agrarian collectives in Aragon, Levant and
Castille. 1850 factories and businesses were collectivised by
800 000 workers. Nearly all industry in Catalonia and 70% in
Levant was collectivised. The CNT collectives ran the
economy co-operatively and co-operated with businesses and
industries collectivised by other Unions until Stalinist military
forces began to imprison or kill all those in Spain who would
not join a Russian-style dictatorship. Stalinists later returned
the collectivised agriculture, businesses and industry to their
former Capitalist owners.