Since the recession began I have been reading two sets of stories in the media. The terrible stories of job losses and people in severe financial difficulties and the statistics of increasing wages of the highest earners. Whilst the gap between rich and poor increases I’m being told that ‘we are all in this together’.
Fed up, disenfranchised, and fearful for the future Co-operatives Fortnight could not have come at a better time for me.
Co-operatives Fortnight is organised by Co-operatives UK, the body that acts as trade association for all co-ops. The two weeks are a focal point for co-ops, to show our strength and share our issues. Did you know that the co-operative economy is worth £33.5 billion with 12.9 million members. No, neither did I! This year the fortnight was all about ‘yours to share’ to show how co-operatives share profits and give people an equal say in running them, very different to the business practices that brought our economy to its knees. Now There is a lot more info on co-ops at www.uk.coop/ but I’m going to tell you about mine….
I am a member of True Food Community Co-op, an organic food co-operative that provides access to good foods across the neighborhoods of Greater Reading, Berkshire. We are a not-for-profit co-op which means that any surplus, rather than being paid to shareholders, gets ploughed back into the co-op. Whilst we survive on voluntary effort we do have staff. The difference being at True Food, like many others co-ops, we have a flat pay scale. This means the boss doesn’t take home the profit while those who do the work take home only a fraction of his income. Instead the co-op strives to pay a ‘living wage’ to all.
True Food is a membership co-op which means you can join, get involved and have a say in it’s running. We have open committee meetings where we discuss our business plans and our buying practices. We have an annual general meeting where we all vote on issues that affect the co-op and issues to decide our future. Key thing is it’s one member one vote so we are all equal.
Thing is getting this message across isn’t always easy. Explaining why a co-op is great and how you can get involved can take time. So it was with support from and thanks to Co-operatives UK that in Co-operatives Fortnight we launched our membership pack;
And! We launched our new website too; www.truefood.coop
As you can imagine it was a busy fortnight but it was worth it to be part of something bigger, part of the future… the future of business.