The road to self management

The success of the Spanish employee owned cluster of co-operatives, Mondragon, has shone a light on the potential for businesses to be owned and run by the people who work in them.

That model is commonly seen as challenging to traditional banks and investors, who are locked out. But it has also been challenging to some in the labour movement, who believe in the representation rather than the ownership of employees.

In the UK, that debate on self management stretches back one hundred years, with arguments then between those who favoured nationalisation of industries such as coal and those who argued for mines for the miners.

Well, the good news is that over the past year, Mondragon has been working with unions in the USA to develop models for enterprise development.

This week, the US Steelworkers Union, Mondragon, and the Ohio Employee Ownership Center announced its model for developing sustainable jobs using the combination of worker ownership and the collective bargaining process, with a union-coop model template.

This is the right time for new thinking. Rather than argue over the ruins of the last economy, it is time for those who care about good work, to help bring it about.

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