Until fairly recently, we in the UK have had a long period of stagnation in the workers co-op movement, since the workers co-op federation (ICOM) merged with the consumer co-op federation (The Co-op Union), meaning that we haven't been self-organising for about 15 years. We have started to pull out of that with the development of the workers co-op weekend (2017 was its 4th year) and the Workers Co-op Solidarity Fund, and a wave of new workers co-ops over the last 5 years. To some degree this was catalysed by an injection of cash into co-op development (The short-lived Co-operative Enterprise Hub) as well as the worsening employment situation and rolling back of unemployment benefits.
Although it seems that the US and UK worker co-op sectors are about the same size, it's my impression that US co-ops, particularly with the creation of the DAWI, are putting a huge amount of effort and resources into building capacity and resilience within the movement and into promoting the model. Additionally there seems to be a much clearer focus on worker co-operation as a solution for disadvantaged communities. What can we learn from this in the UK? And what has worked and not worked in the US and why?
I think that historically, workers co-ops have (more than other sectors of the co-op movement) drawn their strength and sense of mission from having strong political agendas and I want to explore whether this is as true in North America as it is in the UK.
As the world is becoming more interconnected, financial resources are becoming scarcer, the ecological context is getting scarier and with the rise of crypto-currencies and global co-ops, I want to ensure that co-ops in the UK have solid links around the world (particularly with other English-speaking co-ops), have access to useful experience and can take advantage of as many opportunities as possible. And I also want that for co-ops globally.