After contacting the worker co-operatives to update the directory, Mary Holmes wrote: “In a world awash with lyrical mission statements about ‘excellence’, ‘service’ and ‘ethical dimensions’ worker co-ops actually have their values at the centre of the business not just as add-on extras. Worker co-operatives are businesses which are democratically controlled by the employees. Internationally recognised co-operative principles also include: equitable distribution of any surplus, limited return on capital, co-operation between co-operatives, and social and educational aims”.
A worker co-op weekend in May, hosted by Co-operatives UK, is aimed at worker co-operatives to help them learn, share and be inspired by each other. The Co-operative News reports that the programme is made up of practical sessions designed and run by worker co-ops and covers a range of topics.
The Co-operative News link leads to a video about the 2015 event
This year the event will be at: Kibblestone Scout Camp. This is a unique event:
- Designed and run by worker co-ops, for worker co-ops
- Food is sourced from co-operatives like Essential and Suma, with bread from Infinity, Beer from Bartlebys Brewery and veg from Unicorn Grocery
- Vegan friendly catering – with food prepared by volunteers
- Camping and campfires.
According to the News website the event is now fully booked – but for those hoping for a cancellation we add that this is a low cost back-to-basics event (bring tent, limited number of dormitory or private rooms (bring bedding/sleeping bag).
Members of worker co-operatives were, Ms Holmes found, “extraordinarily nice people to deal with deal with. They returned completed questionnaires in time and apologised if they were late. Telephone calls were responded to by pleasant well-informed people who spoke with enthusiasm about their organisation. All this in a modern business environment where companies are usually barricaded behind automated switchboards, and replies to requests for information are not always immediate”.
Would a weekend be long enough to enable worker co-operatives to teach the Co-operative Group how to operate democratically?