This was copied verbatim from Wikipedia.org at 2:24 pm Thursday, December 12, 2013
It is an introduction to lots of organiational forms which worker owned Co-ops have developed in countries across the world.
Typically, a member may only own one share to maintain the egalitarian ethos. Once brought in as a member, after a period of time on probation usually so the new candidate can be evaluated, he or she was given power to manage the coop, without \”ownership\” in the traditional sense. In the UK this system is known as common ownership.
Some of these early cooperatives still exist and most new worker cooperatives follow their lead and develop a relationship to capital that is more radical than the previous system of equity share ownership.
In Britain this type of cooperative was traditionally known as a producer cooperative, and, while it was overshadowed by the consumer and agricultural types, made up a small section of its own within the national apex body, the Cooperative Union. The \’new wave\’ of worker cooperatives that took off in Britain in the mid-1970s joined the Industrial Common Ownership Movement (ICOM) as a separate federation. Buoyed up by the alternative and ecological movements and by the political drive to create jobs, the sector peaked at around 2,000 enterprises. However the growth rate slowed, the sector contracted, and in 2001 ICOM merged with the Co-operative Union (which was the federal body for consumer cooperatives) to create Co-operatives UK, thus reunifying the cooperative sector.
In 2008 Co-operatives UK launched The Worker Co-operative Code of Governance. An attempt to implement the ICA approved World Declaration.
In 2004 France had 1700 workers’ co-operatives, with 36,000 people working in them. The average size of a co-operative was 21 employees. More than 60% of co-operative employees were also members. French workers’ co-operatives today include some large organisations such as Chèque Déjeuner and Acome. Other cooperatives whose names are generally known include the magazines Alternatives Economiques and Les Dernières Nouvelles d’Alsace, the driving school ECF CERCA and the toy manufacturer “Moulin Roty”.
The cooperative movement in Emilia-Romagna, Italy successfully melds two divergent philosophical currents: Socialism and Catholicism. With more than a century of cooperative history, the region includes more than 8,000 cooperatives.
In the United Kingdom, the Labour Party‘s enthusiasm for worker cooperatives was at its highest in the 1970s and 1980s, with Tony Benn being a prominent advocate. A small number of such co-operatives were formed during the 1974 Labour Government as worker takeovers following the bankruptcy of a private firm in a desperate attempt to save the jobs at risk. However the change in ownership structure was usually unable to resist the underlying commercial failure. This was true in particular of the best known, the Meriden motor-cycle cooperative in the West Midlands which took over the assets of the ailing Triumph company, although there were instances of successful employee buy-outs of nationalised industries in the period, notably National Express. Meanwhile many more worker co-operatives were founded as start-up businesses, and by the late 1980s there were some 2,000 in existence. Since then the number has declined considerably.
Under UK law there is no special legal structure for a “co-operative”. Co-operatives are registered under either the Companies Act 2006 or the Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1965 (IPS). A number of model rules have been devised to enable cooperatives to register under both acts; for workers’ cooperatives, these rules restrict membership to those who are employed by the workplace. Most workers’ co-operatives are incorporated bodies, which limits the liability if the co-operative fails and goes into liquidation.
The largest examples of a British worker cooperatives include, Suma Wholefoods, Bristol-based Essential Trading Co-operative, Brighton-based Infinity Foods Cooperative Ltd and the retail giant John Lewis Partnership (although it only uses the term occasionally).
“The road” (Greek: Ο δρόμος) established in 2009 under the law 1667/1986 is the legal form of a direct non-profit work(er) collective running a coffee house named “The bench” (Greek: Το παγκάκι) in Athens. At this coffee shop, creative commons licenced public domain music is being heard and products from “The Seed” (Greek: Ο Σπόρος) and “Syn.All.Ois” (Greek: Συν.Αλλ.Οις), which are cooperatives for alternative and solidarity trade, are being served. Syn.All.Ois is a work(er) coop that grew from within the voluntarily run “The Seed”.
“Βelleville sin patron” (Greek: Όμορφη πόλη χωρίς αφεντικά) and “Colective Germinal” (Greek: Κολεκτίβα Ζερμινάλ) are two work(er) co-ops running in Thessaloniki.