June Gathering 2022/CoTech needs and Network Coordinator role

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What do people find important to CoTech in 2022? What trajectories people feel passionate about and are keen to contribute to? Last year a proposal was drafted to establish a paid network coordinator role at CoTech. What would be the implications, both practically and symbolically? Could this role empower us in progressing our goals? Is this possibly a time to revisit our manifesto?

Updated proposal context: https://wiki.coops.tech/wiki/Summary_before_June_22_Gathering


  • Shared ground (10 mins):
    • Check-in.
      • Great to be here, to be able to fit the gathering in, love the garden. More gatherings to come, also internationally.
    • Consent to agenda.
      • Removed sub-point, agreed.
  • Needs at CoTech (15 mins):
    • What has happened over the past year and what is CoTech lacking?
      • Acts of solidarity that occurred.
      • Background to CoTech for those who just arrived? Since the financial crash more worker co-ops have been formed, Wortley Hall... We are still a loose network, have a fund with 20 members in it.
      • We had a gathering in London last September, previously online one in spring.
      • Since Covid it has been difficult to keep in touch, few people coming to the calls.
      • People focusing on their local environment, mutual aid during the pandemic. Now this is slowly waning. Some endeavours dissipated.
      • Since Covid it has been difficult to keep in touch, few people coming to the general calls, less than pre-pandemic.
      • If people are busy working it's difficult to stay on top of the forum. Sometimes it's easier to show up to a call.
      • Collaborating with people from other co-ops over the forum.
      • It's not easy to be involved, loose network can drive towards loose, unclear outcomes.
    • Round of hopes/expectations for CoTech going forward.
      • Feeling that CoTech exists for more than a few days a year.
      • Someone externally-facing would help.
      • Going beyond loose network or at least be clear about what it is.
      • Learning from other co-ops in terms of scoping, pricing, legals etc.
      • Being able to go into projects as consortium.
      • Structuring bids to avoid undercutting people in the network.
  • Network Coordinator (30 mins):
    • Refresher introduction to the idea and its objective.
      • Last gathering we passed a proposal to investigate the idea of network coordinator more formally. A road map was created but the workshopping process stalled. The idee is to have 3 sub-proposals:
        • 1. Legally incorporate Cotech so that it can contract with a person to pay them to do things
          • Ideas: use Co-op UK rules for CLG or Co-operative Society, or piggy back into the federation we just heard about.
        • 2. Get the money to pay them
          • Refocus contributions to the fund based on something like revenue.
        • 3. Create the process that determines what the person does
          • Use existing processes as much as possible. General Circle call we have agrees the priorities.
    • Reactions:
      • How this can be simplified, we can pay someone know and figure out the structure and fund evolution
      • Incorporation can be avoided, might even be preferential not to do it. Adds friction. The worker co-op federation needs to incorporate by the look of it.
      • No need to incorporate, might need to increase the fund.
      • How do we hire that person, how do we tell them what to do?
      • There has been some work done on this, is on wiki. Useful to have it in the presentation.
      • We can afford a couple days a week for 6 months or so. Network coordinator could figure out the structure and fund in order to stay at work.
      • It's important for the coordinator to support business development.
      • If we change the fund mechanism some co-ops can leave. They will still be in a wider co-op tech movement.
      • CECOP, European network of co-ops, have 5 employees, now they are trying to make clear what associates get.
      • You can base contributions on the compensation for the workers (labour costs). How much do you pay people in terms of wages.

    • Practical implications:
      • Scope of the role and how it maps on CoTech needs.
      • Governance of CoTech Coordination Circle.
      • Capital requirements and Fund's capacity.
    • Round drawing yellow and red lines around the proposal.
  • Closing reflections(5 mins):
    • Outcome: to work on the proposal, which John will coordinate.