Worker Co-operative Council Strategy Paper

The worker co-operative council is the representative body for all worker owned members of Co-operatives UK. C-UK purpose is to grow the co-operative economy through promoting, developing and uniting co-operatives. Ultimately the priorities of the worker co-operative council should reflect these overall purpose and seek to grow the worker co-operative sector.

We can focus on growth in a number of ways: the number of worker co-ops & worker/owners; our scale, our inter-connectedness, how much we fulfill our members needs. By working together, what could we achieve in 5 years? What actions can we take?

Size of worker co-ops in the UK

Total Turnover        = £181m

Total Employee        = c3000

Total Number         = 431

C-UK Members         = 174 (40%)

In 5 years?
Total Turnover        = £362m
Total Employee        = c6000

Total Number         = 862

C-UK Members         = 689 (%80)

Our strategy can be broken down into 5 priority areas: 
  1. Raise public awareness of the worker co-op model
  2. Encourage and facilitate worker co-ops to implement Principle 6 initiatives
  3. Develop worker owners’ co-operative skills and good governance
  4. Increase the number of existing business converting to worker co-ops
  5. Make worker co-ops an obvious and easily achievable option for young and unemployed people
Guiding principles

Givers gain: “Ask not what the co-operative movement can do for you, but what you can do for the movement.”

Leverage everyone & everything: The whole is more than the sum of its parts”

Learn from the best - occupy who?:  “Learn of the skillful; he that teaches himself, has a fool for his master.”

Commit what you can: “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs”

Are we about self-help:- “Be the change you want to see in the world”

Priority breakdown and practical actions (any member can suggest actions or volunteer to help)
Raise awareness of the worker co-op model:
  1. Create and publish a set of key messages about why worker co-operatives are a good form of business.

Action 1: Is a one page fact-sheet a good idea? -like this.

  1. Seek out and educate ‘professionals’ and advocates.

Action 1: Fight for inclusion in employee ownership guides and EO Day (4th July) - some success.

  1. Build visibility on mainstream websites/networks

Action 1:

  1. Get regular commitments from worker co-op members to talk about their business at: schools, youth groups, colleges and business events.

Action 1:

  1. Raise awareness of the co-operative option to workers within other business forms.

Action 1:

Encourage and facilitate worker co-ops to implement Principle 6 initiatives.
  1. Build an online (and printable) ‘space’ for worker co-ops to share news & business intelligence.

Action 1: Ed to set-up simple website on Co-op Web server and give other Councils members access

Action 2: Britta, Ed and John A to create first newsletter.

Action 3: Promote and develop facebook group.

  1. Investigate opportunities for collectively procuring goods and services to reduce business costs

        Action 1:

  1. Investigate opportunities to collectively improve worker benefits and welfare: pensions, insurance, etc

Action 1: JA to approach www.employeebenefits.coop dead end

  1. Develop ‘Principle 6’ event resources and promote

Action 1: Sion Whellen’s to produce, slides and short guide to running an event Done

Action 2: John Atherton to build area to display and promote 

Done - http://www.uk.coop/documents/principle-six-events 

Develop worker owners’ co-operative skills:
  1. Update and republish the worker co-operative code of governance with new media version and updated website.

Action 1: Bob Cannell and John Atherton to consult members and redraft.

Action 2: John Atherton to seek funding for redesign and print. Done

Action 3: JA to develop online Governance Audit

Done - www.uk.coop/workdercode 

  1. Pilot a series of online seminars or physical events for members to share best practice.

Action 1: JA to run a survey on member needs - in progress.

Action 2: JA it is in our plan to develop online webinar programme in Autumn of 2013

Action 3: JA working with Council to do feasibility and if agreed run 4 Co-operatives Skills seminars.

Action 4: JA working with Council and working group to run “a worker co-op thing” in 2013

  1. Improve inter-co-op networking and mutual aid for example: member visits, talks, mentoring, time banking.

Action 1: Mediation skills and network - on the back burner at the momen

Action 2: John Atherton & Alison Banton to trial member study visit (Dulas, 31st August 2012) Done

Action 3: John A to run seminars or member visits alongside all Council Meeting - Partially done

Increase the number of existing business converting to worker co-ops:
  1. Update/develop employee buyout publication and resources.

Action 1: JA  to work with co-ownership solutions on new web pages 

Done - http://www.uk.coop/converting-co-operative 

Action 2:  John A create “simply buyout” publication - underway fin by 4th July 

  1. Lobby for the movement to improve capacity and develop a more proactive approach to business conversions

Action 1: JA ensure one the agenda for Co-operative Option campaign - Done

  1. Hold an event on Employee Buy-outs and Business Conversions
  2. Investigate attending relevant events to raise awareness of option 

Action 1: Helen Barber & John Atherton to meet with Institute of family businesses.

Make worker co-ops an obvious and easily achievable option for young and unemployed people
  1. Run a targeted awareness raising programme

Action 1: JA to investigate young people's film with Woodcraft - Found money, need to chase contact.

  1. Develop an off the shelf set ‘coop in a box’ ‘grow a grocery’ etc resource.

        Action 1:

  1. Reach out to and engage to unemployed, or precarious workers.

        Action 1: SW?