Codetermination – workers’ participation in management – forms part of the industrial relations traditions of a number of European countries. Among these, the German system of parity codetermination (paritätische Mitbestimmung) which was first introduced in the iron and steel industries by the British military command after the Second World War provides the greatest level of involvement for workers. Similar debates which are often overlooked over the introduction of codetermination were taking place in the UK in the late 1940s. This article provides a new perspective on the history of codetermination in the UK and Germany in order to explain why codetermination was introduced in its current form in Germany but not in the UK. The article questions whether the failure to institute a system of workers’ participation in management in the UK should be considered a missed opportunity.