Union co-ops manifesto launch

The 2 July saw very special online event take place to mark the launch of Union Co-ops UK: A Manifesto for Decent Work.

The background

A Union Co-op is a fully unionised, worker co-operative, owned and controlled by those who work in it.

Trade unions are at the heart of this idea: a union co-op offers the potential for a 100% unionised workforce, with the union an essential part of the co-op governance. The union co-op model can deliver improved wages and other terms and conditions by eliminating the top slicing that's commonly seen in capitalist enterprises.

It's a model that offers us an opportunity to reset the working world, harnessing the collective power of workers, their knowledge, skills and creativity through strong partnerships between unions and co-operatives. As the world of work looks set to change beyond all recognition as a result of covid-19, we think this is a model that has the potential to offer hope to millions of people across the globe.

Watch again

A recording of the session is available below.

The manifesto

Download a copy of the manifesto below and read through some of the recomendations.

Download the manifesto

The event

We invited a number of different guest speakers to share their thoughts and insight into the union co-op model. See who joined us below

Michael Peck

Michael Peck headshot

Michael co-founded and is executive director of the non-profit 1worker1vote (www.1worker1vote) movement (2015) developing principles and practices seeding the Union Co-op model and advancing regional & municipal hybrid model, shared ownership ecosystems. 

He is board secretary of the American Sustainable Business Council (www.asbcouncil.org), a Blue Green Alliance corporate advisory board member (www.bluegreenalliance.org), and a co-founding (2019) board member of Citizens’ Share Brooklyn. 

Michael spoke about the US Experience, its successes, challenges and the range of trade unions involved.

Sarah Wooley - General Secretary,  BFAWU

Sarah Wooley Headshot

Sarah is the newly elected General Secretary of the BFAWU. In her previous role as an officer across the Yorkshire region, she looked after Suma Wholefoods, which itself is unique in having a branch inside a co-operative. Before becoming a union official Sarah worked at national bakery chain Greggs.

Sarah shared her thoughts on the historical tensions between the two movements and offered the BFAWU/Suma experience as an example of how those tensions can be resolved to the mutual benefit of all.

Anne-Laure Desgris - Co-Chief Executive Officer, SMART 

Anne-Laure Desgris headshot

Co-director of the Smart co-operative group, her career path began in the logistics and international transport sector after general studies. In 1996, after the birth of her third daughter, she reoriented herself towards the cultural sector, then the social and solidarity economy in 2005 and co-operatives in 2007.

Anne-Laure joined the Smart Group and its Brussels team in September 2019. Co-founder in France of the Manufacture Coopérative and de Bigre! Work collectives, professional equality F/M and economic democracy are her spearheads!

Anne-Laure shared her thoughts and insight on the wider picture across Europe.

Dr. Ian Manborde - Equalities and Diversity Organiser, Equity 


Dr. Ian Manborde is Equalities and Diversity Organiser for Equity, the UK trade union for actors, performers and allied creative professionals in the entertainment industry.

His primary background is as an educator with trade union activists and officials He is a long-standing, active supporter of a strong relationship between organised labour, worker co-operatives and of union co-ops, and has collaborated on a wide range of initiatives in support of this.

Ian spoke in a personal capacity, drawing on his experience of working with actors co-ops, particularly CPMA, in addressing precarity in the sector.

Alex Bird - The union-coop model

Alex Bird Headshot

Alex is a freelancer, activist and life-long trade unionist. Amongst a huge number of achievements he founded a printing co-operative where he was Head of Chapel, edited Union Eyes for eight years, founded the Welsh Assembly’s Cross-Party Group on Co-ops and Mutuals and chairs Wales’ first co-operative bank

He co-authored the Not Alone and Working Together reports on freelancers as well as Organising Precarious Workers for the TUC.

Alex shared his thoughts on the union co-op model and his insight from years of experience in the sector.

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