Co-operatives UK and the Worker Co-op Council (WCC) have held early-stage talks around what a new federal for worker co-ops could look like.
The apex body says it is “broadly supportive” and is now keen for mass worker co-op engagement at Co-op Congress in Birmingham this weekend.
Rose Marley, CEO of Co-operatives UK, said: “Our relationship with the Worker Co-op Council is evolving and we’re enthusiastic about anything that will have a positive impact on our members.
“We want to hear from worker co-ops; to listen to their needs and take all viewpoints into account. What needs to happen for a new federal to be more than the sum of our parts? What could dual membership – being a member of both Co-operatives UK and a new federal – look like? What are the services that our worker co-op members are keen to retain? What opportunities are there for new, bespoke, worker co-op events from the new federal? And how will this improve the offering for our members? These are the questions only worker co-ops can answer, and we must listen to their responses.”
Co-op Congress is being held at Birmingham’s Eastside Rooms on 18 and 18 June with the dedicated worker co-op sessions taking place on the Friday from 11.40am to 12.40am. Representatives from both Co-operatives UK and the WCC will be in attendance.
Co-operatives UK says all its worker co-op members have been invited to attend the session for free – and incentivised to stay for the full Friday programme.
Rose Marley said: “Consultations took place at the Worker Co-op Weekend, but we recognise that not all worker co-ops attend the event. Congress ensures there’s another way for our members to voice their opinion. That engagement is really important as we look to create a bespoke membership offer that serves needs in a modern and agile way; one which our board can get fully behind.”
Engagement at Co-op Congress will go beyond new federal talks, according to Cheryl Barrott, vice chair of Co-operatives UK’s Board. She said: “It’s important to create policy and infrastructure for this movement that’s modern and relevant – and also embraces the diversity and uniqueness of co-ops. We’re really excited about the future of the Movement and there’s lots to discuss. Effective federal working will be a key element to our collective success.”
She added: “Whether we’re talking about multi-stakeholder co-ops, or worker co-ops or employee-owned businesses… what’s really important is we work together to present all the options in their best possible light. It’s about finding co-operative solutions for businesses old and new – ones that work for them.
“It’s people that make co-ops and it’s people – our members – who will inform all facets of our business, including policies and infrastructure. That’s why we’re urging our members to attend Co-op Congress – we’re all ears.”