At our Manifesto launch, we were asked lots of questions by text and email.
We’ve tried to answer them here. Some questions have been combined for simplicity.
Q: Do you see union-coops developing in the housing co-operative sector? Housing co-ops are run democratically by tenant-members. Some housing coops employ staff directly while others use managing agencies (which are or originated as co-ops). Housing co-ops come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, but most are homes that are owned collectively (mortgaged) by the member-tenants or owned by housing associations or councils but tenants are able to run as co-ops. The member-tenants work in all sorts of jobs or none and there are wider family members. So, can housing co-ops become union-coops in the way you envisage?
A: We don’t see that, because union-coops are really designed for worker co-ops, owned and controlled by the workforce, but we believe TUs should be involved in community organising in this sector. A union-coop supplying services to a housing co-op could be involved in a multi-stakeholder model, but with the proviso that in matters relating to employment the worker members hold majority voting rights in line with our manifesto.
Q: Principle 10 prompts big questions about the contractual and institutional arrangements for the 10% financial levy. How are these arrangements to be established? By who? And under whose control will they operate?
A: Principle 10 is one of the strictly bounded ethical principles upon which the union co-op is run. Rather than being a ‘one size fits all model’, it is flexible, and each individual union-coop needs to adapt it to respond to local contexts, needs and requirements. Co-operatives are by definition, autonomous, so the contractual and institutional arrangements of the 10% levy should be formalised when the union co-op is set up. It should be administered by each union co-op as they see fit, spending it themselves on their own activity, or passing it to other bodies – it’s up to them.
The Worker Co-op Council for the UK, which is part of Co-operatives UK, has responded to our Manifesto for Decent Work.
As a result, we are engaging in a positive dialogue with them, to see how we can work together to develop, support and promote the union-coop model in the UK. This is a really exiting development; to have the main UK worker co-operative body’s support added to our existing support from the trade union movement and international co-operative bodies.
Based on CECOP’s Working Group on Platforms and Non-Standard Work, and coordinated by Smart (Belgium), this policy paper addresses the situation of non-standard workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, including platform workers. The paper stems from a summary of members’ testimony of their experiences during the time of lockdown. The COVID-19 pandemic that unravelled over the world led to tremendous losses of lives across the world. With huge efforts and strict measures taken, it was possible to slow the spread of the coronavirus in Europe, but the constant threat of a new outbreak, as well as the economic implications of the fight against COVID-19, remain challenges for European societies and economies. As for many aspects, the confinement measures and their impact exacerbated underlying challenges societies were already facing before COVID-19 spread. This is particularly the case of non-standard and platform workers who struggled during this crisis, as many national rescue packages failed to address their needs. Whereas cooperatives showed their resilience in times of turmoil in the past, this crisis is new and the uncertainties for the future are high.The COVID-19 crisis showed that the recognition of non-standard workers, including platform workers, remains a challenge in national and European labour regulations, leaving workers vulnerable and making fitting policies complicated to obtain. The failure to adapt national and European labour legislation to cover non-standard workers worsened the impact of the current crisis, putting workers incomes and livelihoods at risk.
The pack provides a space for everyone to continue to share ideas now that the webinar has finished and also contains a recording of the session. The recording can also be viewed over on our YouTube channel.
When browsing through the resource pack, please pay particular attention to the “Contribute your ideas” tab, as this is a dedicated space for you to share your feedback on next steps.
Your comments will help shape what action we take over the coming weeks and months, so please do take some time to add your thoughts.
Join us on Thursday July 2nd at 4.00pm, where union-coops:uk will be hosting the launch of our Manifesto for Union Co-ops.
As the world of work looks set to change beyond all recognition as a result of automation and covid-19, we believe the union co-op model offers one way to secure decent work and fight precarity across the globe. Fundamentally union coops are a fantastic way for co-operatives and trade unions to revisit their historical routes and work together in solidarity.
The free webinar will see a number of speakers share their thoughts and insight on the model and discuss some of the challenges that they’ve seen it successfully address. Speakers include:
Cilla Ross – Co-operative College Sarah Wooley – Gen Secretary BFAWU Ian Manborde – Equity Michael Peck – 1 worker 1 vote USA Anne-Laure Desgris – Smart Belgium Alex Bird – Union Co-op Manifesto Tracy Walsh – Facilitator (Red Learning Co-op)