Red lines (We'd leave CoTech if...)

A place for co-ops to state which things they could not consent to CoTech doing.

The assumption is that if CoTech makes a change/rule/etc. that crosses one of these red lines, the co-op(s) in question would leave CoTech.

Outlandish would probably leave CoTech if it admitted any business in which private profit was generated by the exploitation of workers. For example, a limited company in which only some of the company are owners, and where the owners are paid dividends based on their ownership of the company rather than the work they do. This would apply to subsidiary organisations and parent organisations of the joining party.


Outlandish would probably leave if CoTech admitted a member that did a large amount of work for the military, petrochemical, private health, sex, mining or other exploitative/destructive/bad industries.

Private health is a bit nuanced these days as many NHS services are delivered and developed by private enterprises. We generally mean health care products that are not free at the point of delivery.


Sounds obvious but if any member co-op was working for, promoting or associating with groups that are racist, homophobic, transphobic, misogynist etc.

I guess this leads to a discussion of a code of conduct also for relations within CoTech itself also.

We would also be against any CoTech members working on oppressive surveillance technologies.


There go all those lucrative contracts with GCHQ and the British Union of Fascists :wink:

Well worth saying explicitly, and think a code of conduct would be great.


I totally agree that it sounds obvious and also that we should behave well and with respect to each other, but I fear that the association part of this might not be so simple…

For example, Webarchitects are members of Nominet and Jisc and between them they provide most of the .uk domain name registrations, so, we are associated with all their clients and clearly there will be .uk web sites hosting content that we would find unacceptable…

I suspect most the CoTech Co-ops have Twitter accounts and are therefore sharing a digital platform with, and as a result are associated with, all sorts of dubious characters…

I’m sure there is no shortage of people we disagree with who have Gmail accounts and use AWS and therefore a Co-op that uses these services is associated with them…

The US military uses Linux and as a result will have, no doubt, contributed to the kernel — does that mean we should boycott it?

I really fear that there is a danger that this is a subject that we might not all be able to all exactly agree on and could therefore spend an inordinate amount of time discussing and personally I’d far rather be doing other, more useful, things…

Webarchitects has a very simple policy:

Webarchitects are committed to the practice and defence of Free Speech and self expression.

We are very supportive of Free Software and Free Speech, however this does not include hate speech or speech designed to incite acts of violence.

I’m aware this isn’t very fashionable these days but there you go, such is life…


At the last workers co-op weekend there was a discussion about the lack of a food co-ops network like CoTech, one key reason cited was that some in the vegan co-ops were not prepared to work with co-ops that were involved with rearing animals. I’d hate to see divisions of this nature between us — we need to accept that we are not going to agree on everything.


@harry, wouldn’t that exclude co-ownership co-ops, i.e. one member one vote but company shares (CLS) based rather than common ownership/limited by guarantee (CLG/Co-op Society) based? There may in fact be some CLS’s in membership already? Also this points to asking people to send in their governing document (articles/rules) as part of the joining process.

@sion - do you mean because a CLS might hire freelancers and generate a profit and then pay it to the members in the form of dividends? that would certainly become an issue for me if, for example, a co-op had a minority of members who were paid better than a majority of freelancers. Outlandish has a lot of freelancers but they get paid in the same way as members and with similar access to deciding how to spend the surplus they generate.

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I presume @kawaiipunk is talking about a much closer type of ‘associating’ - agree it needs a bit more specificity.

Outlandish uses money, which is associated with the UK Government and others who have a pretty questionable record on human rights, etc.

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Yeh, I mean just a simple code of conduct laying out expected behaviour towards each other online and IRL would be a good starting point. It should be very short and clear as @chris suggested. This is important if you want to make the CoTech a welcoming place for all types of peoples.

“Association” is very vague I agree. I meant more actively promoting, working on and furthering socially toxic projects. There is a lot of difference between dong some website design for the UK Government and working on the code that powers killer drones for the M.O.D.

I think we’d have some fairly significant issues if individuals were being paid more than £162,000 per year - which would put them in the top 1% of UK earners. Our mission includes creating a ‘fairer, better’ world and being part of the 1% doesn’t really seem to fit with that. It would be good to discuss this - maybe with a view to creating some sort of rate card - at Wortley Hall.


Yes that’s pretty much what I mean. Dividend on shares for member-owners in a CLS might be seen as analogous to paying a bonus to members (but not non-members) in a common ownership/CLG coop. That’s in line with the principle that coops benefit their members equitably and in proportion to their transactions with the coop (i.e. how much work they did, measured in time or money).

The new Greek law on worker co-ops stipulates that at least 35% of profits distributed through the co-ops must also be distributed to non-member workers. Maybe we could have something like this.

Anyway, what I’m trying to get at is that we don’t want to work with companies that exploit their workers in a systematic way (though we accept that it’s impossible to eliminate all exploitation while we work in the current economy).

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Things I’d have serious issues with CoTech doing would be:

  1. Infringements on the autonomy of member co-ops, for example CoTech policing the membership or clients of member co-ops and / or attempting to restrict or limit the freedom of speech, association or expression of members co-ops.
  2. Enforced use of proprietary software when, good enough, Free software alternatives exist and can be used.

6 posts were split to a new topic: Ethical Banking for Co-operatives