A co-operative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.
Co-operatives are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, co-operative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others.
Co-operatives are founded on seven international principles that empower and educate their members and promote community participation and support; they are value-based entities, albeit ones which can turn a profit for their members.
1. Voluntary and open membership - C-Mac Industries (Aust) Co-operative Ltd is open to all who are willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without discrimination.
2. Democratic member control - C-Mac Industries (Aust) Co-operative is democratic organisation controlled by our members, who actively participate in the setting of C-Mac policies and decision-making. C-Mac members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote).
3. Member economic participation - C-Mac members contribute equally to the funds of the co-operative and control the allocation of surplus C-Mac funds
4. Autonomy and independence - C-Mac Industries Co-operative is a independent organisation controlled by members. Any agreements entered into with other organisations must ensure democratic control by members and C-Mac Industries (Aust) Co-operative has independence.
5. Education, training and information - C-Mac Industries (Aust) Co-operative provides education and training for members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of the C-Mac Co-operative. C-Mac informs the public about the nature and benefits of co-operation.
6. Co-operation among co-operatives - Co-operatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the co-operative movement by working together.
7. Concern for community - C-Mac Co-operative works for the sustainable development of our community through policies approved by C-Mac members.
Co-operatives National Law (ACT) Act 2017 (“CNL”)
Below is some of the reasons why the founding family of C-Mac decided to implement a co-operative despite many hurdles that presently exist in Australia.
Having recently transferred our 50 year old family manufacturing business to a workers co-operative so I could exit the business, I discovered co-operatives to be the only responsible solution. It was a journey of nine (9) years in exploring and trying different succession options.
If a family business cannot proceed to the next generation the following are the options:
Back ground information:
Baby boomers (now average age 67) owning many small businesses in Western Sydney want to exit their businesses and realise their assets for retirement.
I was in this category. Faced with many issues.
Australia has many hurdles and disincentives. I have a concern for many Western Sydney workers and families:
With technology advancing with Industry 4.0 and IoT (Internet of Things) it is predicted that 40% of existing jobs won't exist in the next 10 years.
If workers can stay engaged in running their own businesses they are very likely to reinvent their jobs and provide for their families and their future. However, if small businesses are closed and staff made redundant, their chances of finding new jobs are low.
To get employment in the future their job skills will no longer be required and redundant staff will have to be retrained to find a job. This puts an even greater burden on our economy.
In my journey through succession planning and implantation I found co-operatives to be a good solution.
C-Mac Industries workers co-operative, I have been told, is the first in Australia since the Co-operative Regulations Act was updated in 2013.
Businesses transferring to co-operatives overseas have been done with great success. See http://www.transfertocoops.eu/
Australia is way behind overseas countries which promote and support employee ownership. Many empirical studies show outstanding results for employee owned business, performing better than incorporated companies.
Co-operatives statistically provide higher wages, better overall family wealth along with improved well-being, better health & education. Benefits flow onto local communities with higher employment rates, less community crime rates etc. All this is badly needed in Western Sydney.
Employee Ownership & Economic Well-Being Report
What do we really know about worker co-operatives?
Extracts from Co-operatives UK Report by Virginia Perotin:
Worker co-operatives represent a high performing business alternative for a very broad range of industries and bring significant benefits to their employees and to the economy.
Because worker co-operatives are owned and ran by them, employees in worker owned co-operatives have far more say in the business, from day to day concerns through to major strategic issues.
Main findings from the analysis and review:
Worker co-operatives could improve local communities employment, and therefore health and social expenditure and tax revenue.
Existing co-operatives provide an example and show to would-be entreneurs that labour managed firms can be viable businesses.
Nice coincidence that the C-Mac Industries Cooperative began its new life on International Cooperative Day. A great contribution and a cause to celebrate.
C-Mac's own success is testament to the wide reaching benefits of employee ownership and we’re ideally placed to not just to support transitions, but to help your business become a beacon of employee ownership excellence.
Six things we can learn from Northern Italy’s Emilia Romagna region, where cooperatives drive the economy.
Would you like to learn what C-Mac Industries Co-operative are working through to transform the business into a "High Performing Manufacturing Workers Co-operative"?