The co-operative runs the business end of things in a fairly different way to ‘regular’ businesses. We run on a not-for-profit basis and operate non-hierarchically. In addition, improtant decisions on the business are made through consensus decision making by a collective of members and workers. There is no single owner, but rather the co-operative is owned by those who work in the co-operative and are members. Similarly, there is no boss or manager, instead a team of four co-ordinators who are hired and empowered by the collective to make day-to-day decisions and ensure that the co-oprative keeps running. There are other hired staff that rotate daily, as well as a strong and energetic group of volunteer workers who dedicate their time to ensuring that this community co-operative keeps running.
– Workers’ self-management is the process by which the workers themselves overthrow their managers and take on their own management and the management of production in their own workplace. Self-management should not lead to any kind of bureaucratic hierarchy. When power is delegated by the workers for specific tasks, those people, such as co-ordinators are always answerable to the collective . (Dolgoff, in Anarchism and Anarchist Organisation (zine), May 1997: 11).
– Meetings function through consensus decision-making processes (anti-hierarchical approach whereby all participants come to an agreement through negotiation, voting is a last-resort) and are based on principles of anti-oppression (takes into account differential power between participants, requires people to recognise techniques of domination, encourages self-facilitation, and allows space for all voices to be heard)
– Quorum for collective meetings is five members/workers; meetings happen every fortnight during semester; agenda items can be nominated by any coop member/worker
– Not-for-profit doesn’t necessarily mean that the cooperative does not make a profit, it means that any profit that the coop does generate is owned by the collective, i.e. profit stays in the coop and can be used for projects within the coop, such as renovations and purchasing equipment.
– Hiring committees can be made up of coordinators, other workers, and coop members: for hiring coordinators (4-5 persons in hiring committee; cover letter, resume and interview required); volunteer coordinator (3-4 person committee; email application; interview OR at least 10 volunteer hours in coop previously); baker (3-4 person committee; cover letter, resume, interview and sample of baked goods required); casual paid staff (3-4 person committee; email applications and previous volunteer experience at coop required); finance worker (either 3-4 OR appointed by former finance worker and approved by collective); hiring committees must be empowered by collective to make decision to hire; decision to hire must be made by consensus with voting as last resort
– The cooperative operates both day to day and theoretically without using hierarchical structures. That means there is no boss, no manager, no owner and no dish pig but that jobs are shared and equal : noone is in charge, noone is at the bottom of the work ladder . We are trying to work towards not having top-down power structures or bosses who you answer to, and this is an key element of the way the running of the co-op challenges the fundamentals of the way our society works.