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* Unicorn - Manchester's co-operative grocery   *
   
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What is a co-operative?

Unicorn Grocery is a worker's cooperative, which means we are owned and
run by our workforce.

As cooperative members, we are all company directors. We take responsibility equally for the decisions that govern our business, from long-term strategy, to budgets and recruitment, to procedures that run the Unicorn film made to mark the first ever Co-ops Fortnightshop from day to day. Strong lines of communication and regular meetings connect each of us to all the diverse areas of the business.

Our Co-op is non-hierarchical, which means that there is no top-down management system. All members are expected to self-manage, as well as simultaneously managing each other, which relies on a great deal of initiative, hard work, and trust!

From 4 members to 50, we have always (wherever possible) made decisions through consensus. As you may imagine, this requires enormous patience and respect! Consensus may not always seem like the easiest or quickest method, but the advantages are well worth it. We learn from one another all the time, and are able to make strong, well-founded decisions upheld by a unified and active membership. This kind of decision making is one of the things that give every member a real sense of 'ownership' of the business; unlike in most jobs we are certainly not divorced from the co-operative staffdecisions we make!

A diverse range of skills is vital in any cooperative. We know that the insight and energy of a new recruit is as valuable as the experience gained from long service. By offering a flat rate of pay, we encourage an equal sense of ownership and worth in all members.

We hope our example will inspire others to pursue a cooperative way of working. We are always happy to give advice, answer questions, or arrange visits for people to learn more about how we work. For more information, contact office@unicorn-grocery.co.uk.
 

Further Reading

Unicorn Grocery is a registered Industrial and Provident Society, bound by 'White Rules' first laid out in the Industrial Common Ownership Movement (ICOM) Act of 1976. This new model of business retains control with its participants, and offers some protection against financial risks. Coops are part of an international movement for commerce to give back to the community by upholding a social agenda. See www.coop.org

Rochdale Pioneers

The Rochdale co-operative is probably the most well known of all the early co-operatives. While it was not the first cooperative business, it was the first to be successful over a long period
of time and with principles including honesty and community involvement it inspired the development of the co-operative movement.

Other Co-ops

During Co-ops Fortnight 2012 we visited some other co-ops, find out more here.

There are many other worker co-operatives worth finding out about, here's a couple we really recommend a visit to...

www.dailybread.co.uk
soundbitesderby.org.uk

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