Fri 27 Jan 2023 10:30AM

CoTech to become an industry circle of workers.coop - towards a proposal

SWS Sion Whellens (Principle Six/Calverts) Public Seen by 105

There is a new, independent worker co-op federation and at the summer gathering the idea of joining forces and making CoTech the first industrial circle of workers.coop received a generally positive response. I now want to work towards a proposal to act on and formalise this.

There are both political and practical reasons why this should be a no brainer, although as always the devil's in the detail and it would also need the coordinating circle of workers.coop to agree and to work on it. Essentially CoTech would operate exactly as it does now, but I think the subs-paying members of CoTech would also need to join workers.coop as enterprise members (many of them have already joined, have agreed to join, or are considering joining). The CoTech circle could involve non-workers.coop members and non-CoTech subs paying co-ops as it does now and have autonomous decision-making and administration remit, sending a member to the worker.coop coordinating circle.

The advantages - apart from the main one - together we are stronger - are that we would be able to merge some admin and infrastructure functions; for instance workers.coop would be the contractor with CoTech's coordinator and could have its own financial ecscosystem, raise money if it wants as it does now for special projects, events, circle expenses (but potentially cross-subsidised from workers.coop general funds); we could merge our NextCloud instances but CoTech could keep its own wiki and other organising tools; and so on.

I know perhaps some CoTechers are not familiar with workers.coop, which is itself in startup mode, and I'm happy to respond to all clarifying questions and then reactions/critical concerns, with a view to writing a proposal for CoTech decision. Meanwhile I'm sharing this summary business plan doc. Here's how a primary worker co-op can join the federation. For transparency: I'm a mission circle (board), coordination circle and communications circle member of workers.coop :)

Would like to be in a position to formulate a proposal in the next couple of weeks, i.e. by Friday 10th Feb 2023.


Sion Whellens (Principle Six/Calverts) Fri 27 Jan 2023 3:33PM

Thanks Polly. In fact, generating new business opportunities for members - way beyond co-op intertrading - is an object of workers.coop and we will be codesigning how we do this in an organised, focused way so that it's not just a cosy club. It's definitely not about buying each others' goods and services, for which the scope is limited, but about sharing wider business intelligence to create opportunities for each other. Although of course intertrading is a way to test each others' offer, and thus qualify referrals and recommendations to third parties.


John Evans Fri 27 Jan 2023 2:34PM

Also just speaking as me, not Code-op:

Very happy to see this move forward. I think the clearest immediate benefit would be using workers.coop as the contracting body for the network coordinator (see here for proposal on that).

I think the main risk is that Cotech and workers.coop might not communicate enough to be able to co-operate effectively. While that would be a shame and a missed opportunity, I don't think it would damage Cotech much.

For me it looks like the potential upside is large and the potential downside is small so I'd be up for it.


Sion Whellens (Principle Six/Calverts) Fri 27 Jan 2023 3:40PM

Hi John, we haven't worked out exactly how communication and accountability will work in the case of industry circles, but I think we would want to coordinate (sociocracy style) by having a link person between the CoTech circle and the Coordinating circle. Otherwise it comes down to how collaborative members want to be, or how siloed, and what members see value in sharing.


Chris Lowis (Go Free Range) Fri 27 Jan 2023 3:11PM

Speaking in an individual capacity too. At first (when we discussed it informally at the Glasgow gathering) I was a bit sceptical about this, but I've softened a bit now.

On a personal and practical level I do some of the organisational work in CoTech (book keeping, running loomio proposals, some forum moderating, responding to inbound emails etc) and I'd quite like a bit more help with that - having some of those functions taken on by "circles" within wookers.coop and being able to contribute to those sounds appealing to me.

I'd be quite happy if the CoTech "industry circle" were given a budget by workers.coop to spend autonomously (including paying for freelance coordinator assistance) and we scrapped the CoTech fund, encouraging the members to join workers.coop instead, I think.

I'd like CoTech to retain an identity, in particular I like our gatherings when they happen and I wouldn't want to see them go away.

I agree with Doug that we should try to make these decisions online for a variety of reasons.


Sion Whellens (Principle Six/Calverts) Fri 27 Jan 2023 3:58PM

Blending financial admin and sharing aspects of administration are obvious efficiencies. The federation's subs model (1/1000th of payroll or freelancer fees, minimum £150 p.a. with pay-what-you-can membership for up to two years) is anyway different from CoTech's, so would need to work something out if you wanted to not to continue the CoTech Fund. CoTech would anyway be free to additionally fundraise for its own projects. But maybe the simpler model is: the CoTech fund continues as that additional fundraiser (just done through workers.coop's books and revenue/cost centres), while the workers.coop membership fee covers general/shared workers.coop activity, as it will for every other type of member.


Sion Whellens (Principle Six/Calverts) Tue 31 Jan 2023 11:07AM

I'd like to maybe do a video meeting for up to an hour, with anyone here who wants to draft a proposal together that would stand a chance of getting broad CoTech support/consent. Who's up for it - and I'll send round a Doodle to fix a time?


Chris Croome (Webarchitects Co-operative) Tue 31 Jan 2023 11:30AM

Good idea, I'm on for that, you could use a Nextcloud poll for picking a date and time, rather than Doodle.


Doug Belshaw Tue 31 Jan 2023 11:48AM

Perhaps a bit of both, for example I'd love to help shape up a first draft from yourself asynchronously (which also might help more people to contribute)?

Item removed


Chris Croome (Webarchitects Co-operative) Wed 8 Feb 2023 10:47AM

Not sure what went wrong with the link, try this?


Load More