We have Stephen and Walton and … Some one else??
- It’s coop fortnight and we’re speaking to MJ Ray about cooperatives. MJ is a member Software Coop
How does it work?
- Production but consensus decision-making as far as possible – we are a collective (we fired the boss) but other co-ops like The Co-operative Group and JohnLewis Partnership look more like other hierarchical businesses.
What industry is your coop a part of?
- We’re a Tech Worker Co-op… that is, we do tech and the workers are the members who run the co-op
What service or business does your coop take part in?
How do we relate to other co-ops?
Our co-ops is a member of other co-ordinating co-ops like http://www.scotland.coop/ and http://www.uk.coop/
What is a coop?Formal internationally-agreed definition: http://www.ica.coop/coop/principles.html
- We prefer to trade with other co-ops, but most of our business is still with private businesses.
- are there different coop structures?
- What are they?
- Consumer and user co-ops: the members are customers who buy through the co-op
- Worker and producer co-ops: the members are the workers or people who sell through them
Co-operatives and Labour movements: not as many links as there should be? Disputes:
- Variations of these, or mixes like multistakeholder
- Walton thinks of Unite and Co-operative Distribution
- MJ thinks of GMB and Co-operative Funeralcare derecognition
What are the politics of co-ops?
- Various consequences. For example, UK’s biggest Co-operative not currrently welcome at http://www.tolpuddlemartyrs.org.uk/index.php?page=martyr-s-festival festivals
- Consumer co-ops maybe leftish?
- The co-operative group a major donor to http://www.party.coop
Would you say all coops are better than no-coops?
- Worker co-ops maybe more mixed: strong individualist, anarchist and libertarian strands?
- Can you speak about any bad coop experiences?
Capitalism versus co-operativism
- MJ ducked this, partly because of a dispute with a co-op http://www.civilsociety.co.uk/finance/news/content/11518/social_enterprise_mark_threatens_legal_action_against_members_of_its_former_parent
How do you start a co-op?What advice do you have for people wanting to start one.
- UK co-op economy growing faster than the UK capitalist economy – major report published in co-ops fortnight http://s.coop/q0uq
- Smaller co-ops often start informally, but bigger/riskier ventures best to agree the ground rules and that you are a co-op fairly early on.
- Maybe international links should be on http://cultivate.coop/wiki/Starting_a_cooperative
Is now an opportunity for co-ops?
- http://cultivate.coop international wiki resource
- People tired of things like Barclays Bank fibbing http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/news/content/view/full/120796
- MJ can’t pronounce Caja Laboral, the bank linked to the Mondragon Co-operative Corporation http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caja_Laboral
Converting businesses to co-ops: what to do about “Well the boss took the risk in creating this, so we should be loyal to the boss”?
- The Co-operative Energy success in Which? Big Switch content, but capped the number of customers so that it didn’t hurt customer service http://www.cooperativeenergy.coop/2012/06/22/co-operative-energy-triumphs-at-which-awards-2012/ – would any private provider have done that, or would they just take as many as they could?
- Tricky challenge, not a position MJ has been in.
- Sometimes risk is shared by the workers, so arguably should be a co-op.
- Sometimes the boss wants to leave – worker succession? http://www.somerset.coop/node/60 and this was sort-of how John Lewis became worker-owned http://www.johnlewispartnership.co.uk/about/our-founder.html
The best praise for this show would be more people buying from co-ops
- BBC TV series “Baker Boys” about a worker co-op running a bakery http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b017ljl1/episodes/guide
First show recorded with http://jitsi.org over XMPP
- http://www.uk.coop/cooperate app to find co-ops (US version to come?)
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