On April 30 trade, industry & competition minister Ebrahim Patel hosted a press briefing on efforts to promote worker ownership to benefit workers. Representatives of large SA companies and trade unions spoke about share ownership structures launched in the past few years. The minister made it clear that employee ownership is an important component of the government’s economic plans.

It is therefore timely to reflect on the arguments for employee shareholding in companies, and to draw lessons from SA’s experience of employee ownership in recent decades. Shared business ownership is one significant way to give content to the largely empty rhetoric around building a more inclusive economy. The past 14 months have highlighted what was already obvious before the pandemic: current levels of inequality and poverty globally and in SA are both unsustainable and immoral...

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