2020 conference – All our own work

COVID-19 emergency forced changes to July 2020 conference weekend

Due to the COVID-19 emergency, we had to make substantial changes to our All Our Own Work weekend, originally scheduled for the first weekend in July 2020. The 150th anniversary of the founding of one of Britain’s most successful early worker-led co-operatives was celebrated, albeit not with events and exhibitions in its home town of Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire as originally intended.  Instead, the organising committee took the decision to move key activities online.

The changes were as follows:

Evening lecture, Fri July 3rd, 7.30 – 9pm

Reassessing the early productive cooperatives: worker democracy then and now

This evening lecture by local co-operator Andrew Bibby , was organised under the auspices of the UK Society for Co-operative Studies. The lecture was run as an online webinar.

All our own work logo

On-line webinar, Sat July 4th: (UN Day of Co-operatives), 10am – 12 noon

All Our Own Work: building worker democracy

Co-operatives UK kindly agreed to co-host this webinar.

This event originally was originally scheduled as a full day of conference and workshops and a social event in the evening. Unfortunately, we were unable to run the workshops and evening event, but the original plenary session, chaired by Pam Warhurst of Incredible Edible, went ahead as an on-line webinar.

Participants were invited to discuss how, as we seek to rebuild our economy and our society after coronavirus, we can restructure our businesses in ways which offer genuine worker engagement and democracy. The video conference took place from 10am until noon, and participation will be free.

Four keynote speakers set the scene:

  • Diana Dovgan is Secretary General of CECOP, the European confederation of industrial and service co-operatives, and joined the event from Brussels. Diana shared the work which CECOP has recently undertaken in several European countries, looking at possible cooperative answer to non-standard employment, freelance and precarious working.
  • Alice Martin is an author whose latest book, on trade union renewal and worker democracy, was due out this Autumn. She undertakes research for PIRC, the corporate governance advisory agency for pension funds, and is an associate fellow of the New Economics Foundation.
  • Molly Scott Cato is an academic specialising in green economics, who is also an environmental and community activist. Previously Professor of Strategy and Sustainability at the University of Roehampton, she is well known in co-operative circles for her work in co-operative studies. From 2014 until 2020 she was a MEP, representing the Green Party.
  • John McDonnell is a British politician serving as the Member of Parliament for Hayes and Harlington since 1997. A member of the Labour Party, he served as Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Shadow Cabinet of Jeremy Corbyn from 2015 to 2020.

You can view the workshop on our Facebook Page here.

We were also able to host our traditional laying of flowers on the graves of local co-operators, J.C.Gray and Joseph Greenwood, albeit with a smaller group of socially distanced co-operators.