People power meets pedal power
Cross-posted from the Otesha Project UK blog
It’s no secret that at Otesha we love bikes. It’s also no secret that we think green & decent jobs are super important if we’re going to find a good way forward out of this whole ecological/economic collapse situation (let’s face it, it’s kind of a mess right now).
Recently I wrote a blog enthusing the power of worker-owned cooperatives because when the jobs aren’t there, why the heck not make them ourselves, right? This time around, I wanted to follow up on my mostly American example by showcasing some homegrown people-powered projects.
So, enter Brixton Cycles and the Edinburgh Bike Co-op – two lovely places that between them have created hundreds of jobs, including more than 120 co-op owners, since they opened their doors. Both of them operate on the same basic system – if you’re a co-op member then you’ve got equal rights, equal responsibilities and equal ownership. No member is higher up the food chain than another, and no member is immune to the risks that come along with any kind of businesses. Both shops take on workers on a trial period, where after a year of employment they become eligible to join the co-op. Right now, Brixton Cycles has 13 co-op members and the Edinburgh Bike Co-op (which has also opened shops in Aberdeen, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield) has around 100.
And this year is the UN’s international year of co-operatives, which aims “to raise public awareness of the invaluable contributions of cooperative enterprises to poverty reduction, employment generation and social integration.” Hear, hear!