Co-op Party pushes for new worker ownership law

The measure would help employees save their jobs by buying out threatened firms - especially in the wake of Covid-19

The Co-operative Party is calling for a new law to enable employees of businesses which are at risk of closure to buy the company. 

This would see workers at risk of redundancy avoid unemployment through a new “right to own” – a rescue package that allows them to buy a stake in the business and run it as a worker co-operative instead. A similar law in Italy has saved more than 13,000 jobs.

The plan is popular with the general public, with two thirds (64%) of respondents to a recent Populus poll saying this policy would make the economy fairer after the coronavirus crisis. 74% want to see protecting workers and consumers to be a priority in the economy after coronavirus.

The paper from the Co-operative Party, A Plan for Job Retention and Employee Ownership, includes a number of plans to save jobs and the economy:

  • A new “right to own” allowing workers to buyout the business they work for if it’s at risk of closure
  • Writing off Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans repayments for businesses who transition to employee ownership
  • Ending the exploitation of employment agencies with new support for co-operative and not-for-profit models

These solutions are critical, says the Party, with 600,000 jobs already cut during lockdown.

General Secretary Joe Fortune said: “As we ease out of lockdown, we risk many businesses downsizing or closing their doors for good. Today’s publication is a practical solution to prevent unemployment which would radically change our economy for the better in the long term.

By offering workers the chance to buy their business, we can protect tens of thousands of jobs while also building a fairer economy where employees have a genuine stake and say in their workplace.”

A Plan for Job Retention and Worker Ownership is the latest paper from the Co-operative Party’s Owning the Future series, focusing on how to build a fairer future post-Coronavirus.

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