Trades Unions & CoTech

A thread to discuss the relationship between unions and tech co-ops. Which unions to join? How to get them to invest appropriately in digital? etc.


Outlandish officially recognises Unite, I and several other people are members or Unite, and I’m a member of the Unite London ITC branch executive committee.

I feel unions are our sister organisations in the labour struggle and need to get much better at digital. Hopefully we can help, and in return then might supply us with meaningful work.


Agaric, the coop I’m part of, recently joined the Industrial Workers of the World. We joined to add a more proactive aspect to our work in the coop movement. Also, personally I’m involved in connecting with other tech workers in my area and one idea we’ve floated is forming a network of freelancers that support one another, with an eye towards formalizing that into a coop or incubator of sorts to support folks forming coops.


At the moment I’m working on a union application to make joining and growing worker power as easy as possible:

At the moment I’m finding people who want to help develop it and use it.

To me, building a platform is the best way to share technology with the union movement, which I think has the potential to be the biggest political force in the UK


In Autonomic, we will be affiliated to the Industrial Workers of the World. A small but radical union that is also active in North America, Germany and Australia. We mostly met through the tech workers grouping within the union and many of us are active at organising at their local branch level in the UK and US.

I agree with @harry that unions are vital allies for the co-operative movement. I think that being in a union is vital for those who work in co-operatives in order to ensure workers rights. I don’t think the co-operative structure necessarily means that there isn’t any exploitation going on. A union can be a vital counter balance to any decisions made by the co-operative that would harm it’s members or where the democratic structures within the co-op fail.

@KingMob looks very interesting. I have been trying to push the idea of an libre app for unions to use for a while now. It should be as easy to join a union as it is to join some gig economy employer. The IWW uses a delegate structure somewhat similar to what you describe in your post.

I also agree that the potential to build union power is really there at the moement. Especially if Jezza gets in and restores some legal powers to the labour movement. IWGB, UVW, CAIWU, RMT and IWW have shown that radical, member led fighting unions are the way to go. Hopefully, along with our friends in the larger unions, we can push the movement into being more combative towards global capital. Co-operatives have a big roll to play in this strategy.


I totally agree on the style of unions needed, I modelled the delegate system on what I’d read about the IWW.

Would you be up for a zoom call at some point this week to talk more about this?

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I’m not around this week much sorry. How about Monday at 4pm? We could make it a public call so other folks can join?

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Monday at 4 works for me, and a public call is a great idea. Although I don’t quite know how that works logistically, would I just post the zoom link in this thread?

We could try our CoTech Nextcloud video chat functionality. It’s just a simple link for public guests to join. I will test it earlier in the day and then see if it is feasible.


This sounds great. I think it would be great if Space4 could be a launchpad for matching people in the CoTech community to work and advice. We’d also like to see it becoming a co-op incubator and have been investigating some ways to get unions to support us in doing this (and that we in turn can help the tackle some of their issues).

I won’t be in London on Monday. I’ll try to join anyway but I’ll be in the countryside so I guess it depends a bit on the interwebs.



@chris could we perhaps have a forum category entitled “Unions and Workers Rights” to keep track of this topic?

@kawaiipunk, good idea, how about a "Labour movement" top level category and then we could have sub-categories if needs be for “Trade Unions”, “Workers Rights”, “Health and Safety”, "Labour Party" etc?

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This thread has been movement into the new Labour movement category .

Looking forward to the call today!

I would love to join this meeting to!

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Hey folks, here is the public link to join the video call:

Bit of an experiment to see if Nextcloud talk works well so there may be some issues. I’m on now if you want to chat.

Hmm yes, very interesting chat! We’ll write up some short minutes and put it on the CoTech wiki for future reference. I think there’s a lot of questions to explore and hopefully we will be able to have another chat in the future.

Nextcloud worked ok but I had some issues with lag which I felt was sometimes 4 or 5 seconds between me and @KingMob :astonished: Would be interested to hear others experiences?

The highly early pre-alpha barebones of the app concept are starting to emerge here: and in the repo


Late in on this thread. I was at the Coops and Unions working together round table in Manchester last week, look forward to seeing the Wiki report.

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We’re hosting the Unite tech workers’ social at Space4 in a couple of weeks time.

10th May from 6ish if people want to come and find out what Unite do, discuss what we could/should do, and/or join.


I’m based in Newcastle but I’m always up for a call if you want to talk about the project, as ideas and contributions can come from anywhere. If you want, just send me a PM about a call and we can arrange something.

I’d really like to have a discussion about Unite/Unison styles of organising as compared to the IWW/IWGB, maybe we could arrange that sometime?

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