The report, titled 'Working Together: Trade Union and Co-operative Innovations for Precarious Work' calls for increased collaboration between trade unions and co-operative to protect the rights of part-time, zero hour contract, temporary, self-employed and freelance workers.

Supported by the Network for Social Change, Wales Co-operative Centre and the Institute for Solidarity Economics, the report highlights Indycube as a blueprint for how partnerships between trade union and co-operatives can flourish.

At a time when the number of zero hours workers has increased by over 800,000 within the past decade, 77% of self-employed workers are living in poverty (and 45% earn less than the living wage) and 7.1 million (more than one in five) are in precarious work, it also offers practical decent work solutions.

Cilla Ross, our Vice Principal and co-author of the report said,

The experience of growing numbers of workers in education, from teachers in the compulsory (pre-16) sector through to further, higher and adult education, is one of casualisation and precarity. This report pulls together examples of how unions and co-ops are successfully working together and offers real solutions on how precarious work can be challenged.

Key findings and recommendations in the report include:

  • Co-operative sector share of GDP is 2% in the UK while in Italy and other EU countries it is over 10%. There are only 474 worker co-ops in the UK versus over 24,000 worker and social co-ops in Italy (which in turn have created 827,000 jobs) where public policy support (including tax reliefs) and legislative changes in 1985 and 1991 have been transformative.
  • A wider partnership with local authorities can make a real difference. Cities in the US are supporting programmes to establish an eco-system of support for co-operative development including legal and technical advice as well as enabling finance. Local government partnerships in Italy have assisted the significant growth of social co-operatives in the fields of social care and jobs for disadvantaged groups in the labour market.
  • Platform co-operatives co-developed by trade unions and worker co-ops are emerging in the USA as an alternative to Uber. Other trade unions in the USA are working on Union Co-op platform solutions for childminders and district nurses. Union Co-op solutions like this are needed in the UK.

Why now?

We spoke with Cilla ahead of the reports launch to discuss why now is the perfect time to be having a conversation about the future of work.

You can read the full Working Together Report here, whilst there's also more information on our research here