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150th anniversary celebrations for historic worker co-op go online

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Fri July 3rd: Online lecture:  Reassessing the early productive cooperatives. Andrew Bibby

Sat July 4th: (UN Day of Co-operatives); Online conference, All Our Own Work: building worker democracy

Arrangements were well advanced for a planned national conference in Hebden Bridge on Saturday July 4th with the theme All Our Own Work: building worker democracy when the coronavirus lock-down started. Although the difficult decision has been taken to defer to another time the break-out sessions, the main plenary session will continue to take place, using Zoom videoconferencing technology. 

Participants will be invited to discuss how, as we seek to rebuild our economy and our society after coronavirus, we can restructure our businesses in ways which offer genuine worker engagement and democracy. The video conference will take place from 10am until noon, and participation will be free.

Four keynote speakers will set the scene.

  • Diana Dovgan is Secretary General of CECOP, the European confederation of industrial and service co-operatives.
  • Alice Martin is an author whose latest book, on trade union renewal and worker democracy, is due out this Autumn. She undertakes research for PIRC, the corporate governance advisory agency for pension funds, and is an associate fellow of the New Economics Foundation. 
  • John McDonnell needs little introduction, as Labour’s former shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer. More recently John has been adding his voice to campaigns to ensure that there is no return to ‘business as usual’ after the covid-19 lockdown.
  • Molly Scott Cato is an academic specialising in green economics, who is also an environmental and community activist. Previously Professor of Strategy and Sustainability at the University of Roehampton, from 2014 until 2020 she was a MEP, representing the Green Party.

This event is being organised by Calderdale Co-operative Association, a federation of co-operatives trading today in the borough of Calderdale and of local supporters of co-operative business. 

The talk being given the previous evening, Friday July 3rd, by Andrew Bibby, previously scheduled to be held in a face-to-face venue in Hebden Bridge, is also moving online. This is free of charge.

Andrew Bibby will be discussing the nineteenth century antecedents of today’s workers’ co-operatives.  His talk, Reassessing the early productive cooperatives: worker democracy then and nowis being organised under the auspices of the UK Society for Co-operative Studies and will run from 7.30pm – 9pm.

As he will point out, Britain’s early cooperative movement didn’t just intend to run grocery stores. Even before the Rochdale Pioneers launched their society in 1844 there had been several attempts to develop co-operatively run mills and factories. What was called productive co-operation was to be a significant, if often controversial, idea for the whole of the rest of the nineteenth century even if the story of these co-operatives has been forgotten. 

Andrew Bibby will lift the lid on the acrimonious debate as to whether co-operatively run factories should offer employees a share in the fruits of their labour through ‘bonus to labour’. 

Andrew Bibby has previously researched the history of Hebden Bridge Fustian Manufacturing Co-operative, the society whose establishment in the summer of 1870 is being celebrated this July. The co-operative, which produced ready-to-wear clothing, was in its day seen as an exemplar of co-operatively run business.

Booking information

Both events are free, but require prior registration.

Andrew Bibby’s talk booking page

The July 4 conference: here's the booking page

For more information contact www.calderdale.coop