Mon 31 Oct 2022 12:13PM

Multi-stakeholder Co-ops in Worker.coop

CM Colm Massey Public Seen by 130

Solidarity Economy Association are a multi-stakeholder co-op, but have always been worker led, so we have always felt at home in Solidfund and at Worker Co-op Events. Last year we launched a new multi-stakeholder co-op, called the Digital Commons Co-operative (whose crowdfunder we are shamelessly promoting here https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/p/digital-commons-cooperative-launch) but when we open up its membership next year, the intention is for it to have a wider range of stakeholders at the governance table. What are people's thoughts on how strong the level of worker ownership and control needs to be to join worker.coop, solicit solidfund etc?


alishakihn Tue 30 Jan 2024 5:11AM

@Run 3 Your positivity and enthusiasm are truly inspiring.


John Atherton Tue 30 Jan 2024 10:23AM

To be an enterprise member of workers.coop you need to be a co-op, we do accept community and mulit-stakeholder co-ops that are "worker led" into membership tho granted the priorities is promoting and supporting worker co-ops. We don't put a strict critiera or % against it. So I'm sure you would be welcome. As for SF funding not sure, that as ever is down to the will of the members!


Alex Bird Tue 30 Jan 2024 10:29AM

Personally I feel we need a membership category within workers.coop for individuals and organisations that promote worker co-ops but are not themselves worker co-ops, maybe with reduced, or even no voting rights to ensure workers.coop itself is strictly worker co-op led


John Atherton Tue 30 Jan 2024 11:24AM

Hi Alex, the clear advice we got from US worker fed (and from seeing at play out at their AGM) was to keep membership/governance simple. One member category, all with the same level of voting and restrict that to only to those you really want to have a say, everyone else is a "supporter" and thats fine. No need to formalise that in governing documents, give them sudo membership with resticted rights etc. They are there to give you money and support your campaigns not turn up to your AGM or cause you admin overhead.

We have already slightly complicated it by having a worker member category (strictly for people giving their labour), but I feel that is important to our culture.

To me Solidfund needs to become the place for anyone wishing to finanically support worker co-ops. And as has been approved a chunk of money each year (assuming workers.coop delivers!) will go from Solidfund to workers.coop so there is now no reason for workers.coop to have its own individual donor programme.


Alex Bird Tue 30 Jan 2024 2:25PM

Hi John. I appreciate your position, and the fact it's based on advice from US worker coop fed. I just take a different view, and I'm realistic that this is a minority position.

I know solidfund is open to all, and many non worker-coops/co-operators contribute, but it's an organisation primarily to raise money rather than contribute to the policy debate. That's why I would like to see workers.coop open to individuals and supporters.

We did this many years ago at Co-operatives & Mutuals Wales, the regional co-op council which had originally been welsh co-ops only, and it's worked very well.


Chris Croome (Webarchitects Co-operative) Tue 30 Jan 2024 2:30PM

@alexbird1 I think workers.coop is kind of already informally open to individuals and supporters, there are people active and involved in all sorts of ways who are not workers in a co-op that is a member... I think it is simply a matter of getting stuck in, perhaps this needs to be made clearer?


John Atherton Tue 30 Jan 2024 2:42PM

Oh yes definately Chris, workers.coop is a very different sort of organisation, apologies if I didn't make that clear. The route is to actively give your labour to the mission, once you do that, then you get to have a say, (by becoming a worker member).

Where I have seen many co-op and other social movement fail is focusing on builiding a broad membership and a load of people who want a very shallow level of engagement, giving their opinions and having their say, but not actually do the work, so we've flipped that concept. You need to do the work before as an individual you get to have a say.