In a workers’ co-op, the members are the people who work in, or for, the business. From actors to artists to cafés, trainers to growers to designers, they share aims around decent conditions and terms of work; a culture of equality; a belief in developing their members and their skills; and a commitment self-managing their working lives.
London’s worker co-ops include Cycle Training UK in Bermondsey, Cave Co-operative Sustainable Architects in Kingston, OrganicLeagrowers in Walthamstow and Calverts graphic designers and printers, based in Bethnal Green. These are well established co-op businesses, environmental champions, and all leaders in their respective trades and professions. They are worker-owned and controlled, providing services and products to members and customers in line with co-op ethics, values and principles.
London also has new and young co-ops, breaking new ground in what they do and how they do it, such as youth employment campaigners AltGen and Hackney’s vegan café Black Cat.
Worker-owned and controlled businesses the UK are among Europe’s most radical co-ops. They elect a Worker Co-operative Council, which published the excellent Worker Co-op Code, a quick guide to what worker co-ops are all about. It’s been translated and published in several languages. Compared with worker co-ops in countries like Argentina, Spain and Italy, worker co-ops in the UK are quite a small sector, but we’re aiming to grow. We organise on a European level through CECOP and globally through CICOPA, the International Organisation of Industrial and Service Co-operatives.
If you’re interested in starting a workers’ co-op, want to convert your workplace into one, or just want to visit a co-op and meet some of their members – please get in touch.