CoTech Hack 2018/Greennet Membership Discussion

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Greennet CoTech discussion

Minuter: Aaron, Agile Collective

Present

  • Aaron - Agile Collective
  • Ed - Greennet
  • Pete Burden - Outlandish / Individual
  • Matt K - Outlandish
  • James - Go Free Range
  • Nick - Coop Web
  • Louise - Media Coop
  • Felix - Wave
  • Finn - Agile Collective
  • Alice - Aptivate
  • Luke - Small Axe
  • Kat - Dot Project

Note: I hope the following is a true and accurate account of the discussion and proposal. Please amend or comment if this is not the case.

Background

Aaron gave background to the original proposal and discussion on Loomio:

  • Greennet applied to join
  • Chris L started a thread
  • 13 of the 26 (at the time) member coops voted, 9 agreed, 3 disagreed and 1 abstained. A number of people / coops changed their vote as more information emerged.
  • A lot of people on the thread expressed a desire for Greennet to join and that they will make a great addition to CoTech
  • The fundamental reason for disagreeing to the proposal was that Greennet cannot follow the 7 principles because it is not worker owned and controlled as it is owned by a charity.
  • They have a legacy structure that is complicated to extricate themselves from - they have been moving towards a formalised cooperative structure but capacity, time and money, have hindered this.

Ed Maw from Greennet then gave some background on who Greennet is, what they do and their structure:

Greenet have been going for 30 years providing a range of digital / tech services. There are 9 workers, most of whom are part time. At some stage someone decided to set up a charity to which the company could donate. The BNP made a complaint to the charity commission about political activity and so it was shut down. It has never been very active. It has 2 trustees, Dave and Paul, but they play no active part of running Greennet. In terms of governance they play no role. Association of Progressive Communications (APC) is the international group that was set up in the 80s, similar to CoTech. They follow the 7 principles of cooperation, make decisions by consensus, they are flat hierarchy, and have equal pay. They have been working towards formalising as a coop. It is a notty business. Ed is not sure what type of company they are at present e.g. limited by shares or guarantee.

Proposal

We accept Greennet as a member of CoTech providing they resolve the issue of worker ownership and control by becoming a coop within 2 years. CoTech will provide support to enable them to do this, by offering Sion Whellens skills and expertise and by supporting an application to Solid Fund to get funding to help them with the legal costs.

Clarifying questions?

  • Can we revisit the membership criteria / application process?
  • Do we have any way of dealing with coops that stop being coops?

The above questions were not addressed as part of this proposal but should be considered in the future.

Critical concerns?

  • Don’t know if this proposal addresses the original concerns raised last time

- Aaron and Nick reviewed the thread and feel that what we stated at the beginning was an accurate summary of the rejection ie that Greennet were not worker owned and controlled and therefore despite ascribing to the principles, could not honestly adhere to all of them in practice. This was accepted by the group.

  • Is there enough capacity within CoTech and Greennet to make this proposal happen?

- Time capacity has been an issue for Greennet but with the momentum from this proposal and help from Solid Fund, Greennet are committed to joining.

  • Is there consensus / will within Greennet to want this or is it just the will of a single individual within Greennet?

“The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” Ed feels that they have already stated this on the Loomio proposal thread but would be happy to provide something in writing if this is an ongoing critical concern.

  • What happens if the cooperative status is not achieved or achievable? Do we rescind the membership?

- We have set a 2 year time limit on this and will review at 1 year. Ed accepts that it is reasonable to expect clarity within this time frame and they will be happy to withdraw if it does not look realistic.

The above proposal is the final version after incorporating the critical concerns. A final round of critical concerns was raised with none arising.