Worker Co-ops: How to Get Started

We live in a world of increasing inequality, exploitation, and a fixation on growth at all costs. We need new forms of business and there are a growing number of co-operatives that are owned and controlled primarily for the benefit of their workers. 

This workshop will be a practical journey through the stages of setting up a worker co-op, exploring the different options and decisions you’ll make along the way.

  • What is a worker co-op and why they are relevant to our economy.
  • The practicalities of setting up a worker co-op, what you need, when you need it, and where to go for further support.
  • The core skills, behaviours, and practical tools to make your journey as smooth as possible.
  • The motivation, inspiration, and knowledge to start this new adventure.
  • Some core skills and ways of working with others to ensure you can build a great organisational culture.
  • A one-page business model canvas, with clear stepping stones and a next action to complete after the workshop.
  • Do you have a business idea, or need for a decent job doing what you love. But you want to share the work, responsibilities, and rewards with others? 
  • Do you have a social or community project that you want to embed flat management and people-focused work practices?
  • Are interested in worker ownership and want the knowledge and tools to advocate for the model and help others get started on their own journey.

Siôn Whellens co-designed and launched the Worker Cooperative Solidarity Fund, which has 525 contributing members, mainly worker co-operators. SolidFund backs worker co-op education, skills development and organisation projects. He will be delivering the workshop in Bristol.

John Atherton works at Co-operatives UK, the national network for all co-ops, with a particular focus on worker co-ops. John edited the 2nd edition of the worker code of practice and has directly supported many worker co-ops over the last 12 years. He will be delivering the workshop in Bradford and Newcastle.

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