Category: News

Changes to workers.coop’s structure

7 May 2024

As you may have heard, workers.coop is restructuring its approach to strategic planning and delivering work. This means changes to the working group structure. We’re letting members know about these changes as we move from our strategy and structure version 1.0 to 2.0. Following the Board elections, workers.coop also has a new Board which you can read more about here.

We answer some questions about these changes below.

Have these changes come out of thin air?

No. The Research Group have been carrying out research on the functioning of workers.coop. The changes set out have been made in response to recommendations following feedback from the Research group and also feedback from the Autumn Assembly and ‘All Hands’, as well as wider observations and discussions within our People, Policy and Culture Group, and finally recommendations made by the Board and paid workers in response to challenges raised.

Why is the federation’s structure changing?

These changes are a direct response to one of two main challenges identified – that the previous structure was overly complex and was not functioning as we envisioned. To read more about the challenges and how we responded, see the ‘All Hands’ presentation here where this was presented and discussed in January.

Structure 1.0

The previous structure of workers.coop included the Board and Co-ordination group, as well as the following working groups: Mobilising, Communications, People, Policy and Culture, Digital, Member Learning, Co-ops Anti-Racism and the recently formed International working group. See the Handbook 1.0 for more on the old structure including a map.

Structure 2.0

We still have a Board, accountable to our membership that is responsible for the overall strategic direction and finances of workers.coop. But rather than a large number of fairly isolated working groups we have created two strategic groups (SGs) that align with our two main missions:

SGs are member led groups, that set strategy, plan and commission projects and think about the ‘bigger picture’. They are not responsible for doing work or carrying out operational activities. To get stuff done, a project group forms under direction of the SGs that operate until project completion.

The operaitonal activities will be carried out by a new ‘operations group’ (OG) that is made up of paid worker members. One member of the OG will sit on each ‘strategic group’ (SG) and SG members can attend OG meetings. To see the flow of accountability and decision-making set-up see slides here.

A map has been created to visually demonstrate the new working structure.

Member involvement

There are now clear and distinct routes through which members can get involved:

  1. If you are interested in strategic thinking and planning, you can join a SG
  2. If you are interested in specific activities and delivery you can get involved in the relevant project
  3. If you are interested in both aspects, join a SG and then get involved in one or more project groups

For instance, two projects you can get involved in:

  • Co-op conversations (Co-op Support & Dev SG) Join our Conversations supporter team by contacting John Atherton
  • Co-op Fortnight campaign (Movement Building SG) (Join here)
  • More projects will be put out shortly, or join one of these groups to suggest projects and co-commission work

Democratic work in progress

We and the Research group want to stress that what’s being presented is the result of much discussion and feedback however “it is not a finished product”. We have tried our best to incorporate lots of ideas and perspectives but developing things in this way can result in contradictory views and we may still need to figure this out. We want to hear members’ feedback to keep developing our new structure, and encourage you all to challenge and improve what is set out.

We’ve created a discussion thread on our Forum here for answering any questions, if you spot something that’s been missed or want to provide feedback.

Report back from a Scottish co-operator

07 May 2024

Report from Louise Scott, Media Co-op

There’s been much activity in Scotland with reports from Edinburgh and Glasgow’s worker co-op scene. To start with Media co-op is celebrating its 20 birthday with Films to Change the World at Glasgow’s Kelvin Hall on 12 June. The audience will be joined by Paul Laverty, screenwriter for Ken Loach, and many of the organisations who’ve worked with media co-op over the past two decades for a screening of some of the films and a formal handover of two decades of short films and animations on the co-operative, third and public sector to Scotland’s National Archive where they’ll be available to the public in years to come. 

The Glasgow and Edinburgh monthly meet-ups continue to flourish with a varied programme of activities and events from . films to introducing sociocracy to planning a local co-ops website, to going behind the scenes to view the historic co-op collections at the Glasgow museums to informal drop in for chat and peer support. 

During the Glasgow meet-ups this year, worker co-operators, joined by Glasgow Student Housing Co-op and co-op friends, made two banners/ The aim is to give worker co-ops – and co-ops in general – higher visibility and to be able to demonstrate our worker co-op solidarity. 

Our two new Glasgow banners had their first outing on the Glasgow May Day march.

Worker co-ops Green City and media co-op have been invited to give a short intro to co-ops for Dundee Social Enterprise Network members on the morning of Wednesday 22 May. 

Also coming up in June is Co-ops at the Council. A Co-operatives Fortnight event and part of media co-op’s 20th birthday celebrations, the half-day event at Glasgow City Chambers on Tuesday 25 June will bring together co-ops of all kinds from across the city with elected members and Council officers. The event is a refresher for the Council on co-ops with a focus on four sectors – housing, food, energy and arts – and includes co-ops in all sectors including sports. We’ll work together on how co-ops could support the Council deliver on its programmes; and identify what the Council can – and could –  do to help co-ops in the city to grow and thrive.

And last but not least, the 2024 Scotland Worker Co-op Gathering will be held in Dundee this year on Thursday 27 June. 

This will be a much valued opportunity to get together with other worker co-ops from around Scotland, find out what the Scottish Government is planning for co-ops, discover what support there is for worker co-ops and meet the people behind it, get 1:1 consultancy on your co-op, take part in workshops and peer support sessions  – and chill out at the end at the post-event social hosted by Dundee-based worker co-op, GP practice Newfield Medical.

Welcoming the new Board of Directors

03/05/2024

As you may know we recently sought nominations for the board of directors for workers.coop. As it is our first AGM, and first board election, all 7 board positions were up for reselection. We received exactly 7 nominations. This means there was no need for a contested election, and all 7 nominees will become the new board of directors.

We welcome in the new Board:

  • Richard Rowley, Agile Collective
  • Kiri Langmead, People Support
  • Ross Hodgson, Suma Wholefoods
  • Leigh Galletly, Greencity Wholefoods
  • Sean Farmelo, Birmingham Bike Foundry
  • Gemma Copeland, Common Knowledge
  • John Atherton, workers.coop

Thank you to the individuals previously on the Board, which include those who are re-appointed as Directors by taking on a new term as well as those stepping down. A continued thanks to Leigh, Ross, Kiri and John, and a big thanks to: Stephen Gill (VME Co-op), Dan Holden (Unicorn), Debbie Clarke (Unicorn), Cath Muller (A Commune in the North) and Siôn Whellens (Calverts/Principle Six).

The new board’s term will start at the upcoming AGM on the 29th May at 5pm. The term length is usually 2 years, but to ensure continuity, half the board will step down in 2025 so that each year half the board will be elected going forwards.