“Taking control of our own lives is an important step in the fight against the massive injustices and ecological devastation facing the world. Big companies and unaccountable governments may rule the planet, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Workers’ co-ops give us a chance to change a small but significant part of how things are.”
So reads the opening paragraph of How to set up a Workers’ Co-op, the highly practical handbook produced by Radical Routes. The fourth edition of the guide, first produced twenty years ago, has just come out and is now available for purchase in hard-copy form for £7 or for downloading for nowt. In line with the handbook’s radical stance, the book is ‘anti-copyright’ – the idea is to encourage people to make use of the resources.
The workers’ coop movement may be small in Britain, but it is arguably the liveliest and most creative part of the UK coop scene. Radical Routes, and in particular its two member-coops Seeds for Change and Footprint whose members did the work of making the updates and editorial changes, deserve praise for this useful initiative.
You can download the handbook from http://www.radicalroutes.org.uk/publicdownloads/setupaworkerscoop-lowres.pdf
Two separate envelopes through the letterbox here today, both in different ways bearing encouraging news of the health of the cooperative movement.
One is the Spring 2015 newsletter of Rootstock, the ‘social investment’ cooperative society which offers withdrawable shares to its members as a means of raising capital to help cooperatives (mainly housing coops) working for social change. Rootstock was set up through the efforts of the Radical Routes network of coops and deserves to be better known. Rootstock investors’ money has since 1991 been used to make sixty loans to coops. Their website gives all the information investors need.
Valley Organics is a West Yorkshire based workers’ cooperative running an organic food shop which they purchased two years ago from its previous private owners. Valley Organics’ very attractively produced Annual Report seems to me a model of the sort of way that workers’ coops should share information with their friends and customers, with details of both the business’s financial performance and its ethical policy. The good news is that turnover is 35% up on projections. (“To be perfectly honest, we are a bit surprised to find ourselves running such a successful enterprise!” they say with refreshing candour.) Good for them.