The SolidFund Network explains how worker co-ops are coming together to grow the movement.
“You probably know Unicorn is a workers’ co-op, but did you know that many of its members are part of a bigger network of worker owners and supporters? It’s called the Worker Co-op Solidarity Fund – or Solidfund, for short.
Solidfund was set up as a simple way for worker co-op members and their friends to put £1 a week into a shared pot of money to support worker co-op learning and organisation. Unicorn members were among the first people to join, and today 59 out of 635 regular supporters are Unicorn workers.
We’ve collected nearly £200,000 in 6 years, and made lots of small but important distributions of money to help grow and strengthen our movement. For instance we helped Creative Workers Co-op in Belfast buy their own film making equipment, and workers at Natural Food Store to buy out the retiring owner and set up as a co-op.
Lots of other early stage co-ops have been supported, like community hub Kitty’s Launderette in Liverpool and Sail Cargo South East, providing low carbon shipping. As these new co-ops got established, their members in turn joined Solidfund, helping us to expand the mission.
Today, there are around 250 worker co-ops in the UK, from technology companies like Delta-T to ethical food wholesalers like Green City. In the future, we hope to support co-ops in new sectors, like Essential Workers – a collective of Latin American cleaners in London. What we have in common is a commitment to creating decent jobs, collective control over our working lives, and values like working for the health and sustainable development of our communities.
Solidfund also supports initiatives for worker co-op education and training, like Barefoot Developers – a programme to help experienced co-op workers gain the skills and confidence to turn themselves into advisors and organisers for the movement. Some of us at Unicorn have been on the course, and are setting out on this new path ourselves.
One of the great things about Solidfund is that there’s no ‘central committee’ running everything. Like Unicorn, every member has a say and a vote, and any member can put forward a proposal for discussion and decision.
And you don’t have to work in a co-op to be a member. In fact, many of our newest subscribers are simply people who like the idea of industrial democracy, and want to see more businesses like Unicorn. So if you’d like to chip in on a regular basis, and help us strengthen the worker co-op cause, you’ll be more than welcome. Check out our website – and join up!”