GUEST POST – James Proctor, Co-operatives UK, on the referendum

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cukzen_logo_0One week ahead of the Independence Referendum – Third Sector Question Time event we asked our event partners: ACOSVOCo-operatives UK and Social Enterprise Scotland to set out their views and thoughts for the social economy sector looking ahead to 18th September. Here, James Proctor of Co-operatives UK shares his thoughts:

Co-operatives Fortnight is the our opportunity to remind everyone that co-ops are about people as well as profits. That they are about democracy, the right to appoint, and remove, the people that run the co-operative. And about participating in the big decisions. It’s not surprising then that people in co-ops are engaged in the referendum debate and discussion.

Whether you are in a worker-owned business like Edinburgh BicycleCo-op, Green City Wholefoods or the Graphics Co-op, a member of a retail co-op like Scotmid or Clydebank Co-op, part of an agriculture co-op such as First Milk or Tarff Valley or live in a housing co-op like Easthall Park or Lister Housing Co-op it’s you that has the power to influence how your co-op runs. This isn’t part of an engagement plan suggested by a marketing department, it’s a right and part of the DNA of every co-op.

European or national democracy can be difficult and messy but even at the smaller scale of an individual co-op democracy isn’t always an easy process. And at times it can be difficult to sustain everyone’s
involvement. But the importance that the right of participation has is no more clearly demonstrated when large life-changing decisions are being made.

It’s the ability of co-ops to put power into people’s hands that we celebrate during Co-operatives Fortnight.

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