Austerity: Who needs it and why don’t we focus on collecting all our tax liabilities?

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Sponsored by the Scottish Co-operative Party – the inaugural Scottish Co-operators Lecture.

An increasing number of commentators, including Will Hutton, are calling for corporations to be legally required to behave more ethically – to act in the best interests of a wider collection of stakeholders and to be accountable to them.

The Co-operative Movement has argued this case for centuries and continue to press the case for more diversity of ownership across the economy and especially in financial services.

Prof Prem Sikka (Essex Business School) has been a consistent advocate of more mutual and community focussed financial services such as credit unions. He has also frequently made the point that if more of our big businesses acted like responsible citizens and carried their fair share of the tax burden then there would be no economic argument for austerity. Prof Sikka will be expanding on these themes in Glasgow on Saturday 18th April 2015 @ 12.00pm.

If you would like to participate in this critical discussion, register at info@cets.coop. Attendance is free but limited and places will be allocated on a first come basis.

McCance Lecture Theatre
University of Strathclyde
16 Richmond Street
Glasgow
G1 1XQ
Saturday 18th April 2015 @ 12.00pm

Scottish School of Co-operation

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Cardinal Newman High in Bellshill became our latest Scottish School of Co-operation.  The school were presented with their award by the Provost of North Lanarkshire, Jimmy Robertson, at an event in the school last week.  The Provost noted the area’s co-op connections, both current and historical.  The new co-op food distribution centre is a 5 minute drive from the school and Scotmid have had a presence since the 19th century through the old Dalziell Co-op.

Cardinal Newman are certainly not going for half measures as regards their SSC status.  They are working with Scotwest to create a credit union and organising at least another 2 young co-op enterprises.

There were 10 co-operative businesses (Co-operative Group Food, Pharmacy, Funeralcare and Membership, Scotmid, Green City, Media Co-op, Scotwest, West Whitlawburn Housing Co-op and Clansman Dynamics) supporting a speed networking event.  In particular, the 40 pupils starting out on their SQA Awards in Co-operative Studies were able to extract valuable information on how co-op businesses function and what makes them different from other types of enterprise.  They also learned the role played in the creation of the original James Bond character – Sean Connery having spent his initial years in employment with Scotmid.

We are hopeful that this event might prove to be the catalyst for developing SSC across North Lanarkshire.  The council has made a significant investment in developing co-operative teaching, so it would seem logical to want to teach about co-ops as part of that exercise.  The significant employer engagement and the use of co-ops as the context for cross curricular learning and teaching was also noted by senior educators.

Making 2013 a great year for Co-op Education

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Diarmuid

‘What could be important in this co-operative initiative is not what is accomplished but what it is intended to do.’
– José María Arizmendiarrieta

One of the key messages of the UN 2012 Year of Co-operatives was to see the celebration not as an ending but as a beginning. We have taken that to heart at CETS and have a variety of activities, resources and projects planned for 2013 that will hopefully improve co-operative education in Scotland and the UK.

  • The first cohort of students will be completing the inaugural SQA Awards in Co-operative Studies in 2013. Offered at levels 4, 5 and 6, the qualification provides secondary students with a detailed understanding of the core historical, social and organisational topics relating to co-operatives. We are working on promoting these awards to other Scottish secondary schools in the year ahead.
  • 2012 saw the development of our interactive online resource on the Commonwealth Games. The Co-operative Games: Succeeding together is aimed at upper primary/early secondary level pupils and covers a variety of topics within the Curriculum for Excellence. We will continue to promote? this resource in the run-up to the 2014 Games.
  • We are always seeking to develop relevant, interesting learning and teaching resources on co-operatives and 2013 will continue this trend. The end of the summer will see the launch of a resource on ‘making your school co-operative’. Loudoun Academy became the first “Scottish School of Co-operation -SSC”. We are now building on our work to create the first cluster of SSC schools in Edinburgh and the first Primary SSC in Angus. We also have plans for a second resource but we’re still at the idea generation stage; any ideas/suggestions are welcome at info@cets.coop.

2013 will also be also a big year for us in relation to our work at tertiary level:

  • In co-operation with Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS), we are organising a series of screenings of the US employee ownership film, We The Owners, across 3 or 4 Scottish Universities. Open to students, academics, local business people, and co-operators, the screenings will take place during late February, early March; contact info@cets.coop if interested in attending.
  • March will see the completion of an innovative project, supported by Co-operatives UK, to establish a co-operative providing employment to students from a Scottish university. Student-owned and led, the new co-operative will be launched in late March and will be based on a successful model from Mondragón Corporation in the Basque Country.
  • Finally, work continues, thanks to the support of CDS, on disseminating the outputs of a recent Knowledge Transfer Partnership project between CETS and the University of Aberdeen. These outputs include an academic textbook, a collection of essays, an entrepreneurship guide for students/graduates, and a virtual learning environment. We are also delivering a series of lectures across Scottish universities, in particular with the University of the West of Scotland.

Co-operative education workshop – Co-ops United

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Details of an interesting workshop at the big co-op event Co-operatives United at the end of the month:

Title: Business Education Geared to the Co-operative Model: A Growing Trend

Description: When current and future co-operative leaders wish to pursue professional development specific to the co-operative business model, they do have options. Discuss the benefits of existing business programs geared to co-operatives. Learn directly from those with first-hand experience as students, instructors, and co-operative sector supports of co-operative specific management education.

Date: Thursday, November 1, 2012

Time: 14:30 – 15:30

Location: ICA Expo, Manchester Central. Room/location in conference: Business (Central 7)

http://www.icaexpo.coop

Co-operatives and public health: some recent evidence

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Interesting talk from Teaching Scotland’s annual conference a few weeks ago. Sir Harry Burns, Chief Medical Officer for Scotland, spoke of the role autonomy plays in the health of Scottish citizens. He presented evidence linking stress levels with the level of autonomy people have in their working lives. Seems like a timely reminder of the role member-owned businesses can play in the Scottish economy in relation to improving the well-being of citizens. Similar research is being carried out in the Basque Country where academics are investigating the link between worker ownership and reduced risk of cardiac arrest.

£30,000 PRIZE FUND FOR BEST NEW CONSORTIUM BUSINESS IDEAS

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Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS) is offering £30,000 worth of cash and support to develop new consortium co-operatives in Scotland.

The inaugural Collaboration Prize aims to encourage businesses to consider working with others to form a new consortium co-operative. Co-operatives are collaborative vehicles that play an important role in creating globally competitive businesses. They enable employees, businesses and communities to work together to fulfil shared interests.

CDS is calling for interested parties to pitch an idea for a new consortium co-operative with up to three winning concepts each receiving a cash prize of £5,000 and a further £5,000 of support to get the business off the ground.

First Minister Alex Salmond, who has backed the initiative, said: “I am determined that the Scottish Government does everything possible to get more businesses thinking about how they can work better together, and the Collaboration Prize is a very valuable opportunity.

“I hope the new prize will stimulate new thinking.”

With a combined turnover of £4bn and employing around 28,000 people, Scotland’s 550 co-operative businesses currently play a key role in driving Scotland’s economic growth.

The deadline for entries is 31 July 2012 and winners will be announced later this year in August.

For more information about the Collaboration Prize or Co-operative Development Scotland, please visit: www.scottish-enterprise.com/cds-collaboration-prize or call 0141 951 3055.

Scottish parliament launch of Year of Co-op

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Diarmuid

On 9 February 2012, the UN International Year of Co-operatives (IYC) was launched at the magnificent (and slightly odd) Scottish Parliament building in Edinburgh. Organised by the Holyrood cross-party parliamentary group on co-operatives, it was an event designed to showcase the political support for the co-operative movement in Scotland and provide an opportunity for co-operators across all sectors to meet and greet.

I am aware that I am biased but I must say that the quality of the event was superb; well-respected speakers (including finance minister John Swinney, who spoke with authority and passion on the role of co-ops in his constituency) and hardy exhibitionists co-operated to create an enjoyable and dynamic atmosphere. For CETS, it was an opportunity to showcase some of our most recent work (a couple of launch dates in the pipeline – we’ll keep you posted) and gain valuable feedback and contacts. Rather than try (and fail) to fully describe the tone and content of the event, I will let the excellent video produced by Glasgow’s own mediaco-op tell the tale.

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