Joe Cullinane

Scottish Labour Councillor for Kilwinning

Workers Co-operatives could save local jobs and services

AMP Control – closing.

Red Cross House – closing.

Hazeldene – closing.

Irvine Citizens Advice office – closing.

These impending closures, coupled with job losses at HOWCO, Clydeport, Mahle in Kilmarnock and of course at North Ayrshire Council due to budget cuts, signify an economy and society under great stress.

Over 600 jobs to go.

In the case of Red Cross House and Hazeldene, vulnerable service users will be left without the support they require. With the Citizens Advice closure local people will lose access to advice services in their own area.

This is a worrying trend. It is certainly not a time for more of the same. It is a time to stand up, be counted and deliver change. That's what I am doing and will continue to do.

With every job or service loss announced I am lobbying for intervention to save them. But what we really need is a change in the way economic development is delivered.

I could write at great length on Scottish Enterprise and its use of public money to prop up companies such as Amazon and ATOS but I want to focus on a bolder, more democratic vision for a future economy – workers co-operatives.

Is it any wonder that our economy works for the few when it is owned and run by the few? That workers can be cut adrift at the first hint of market difficulties and reducing profits?

Imagine an economy where the real wealth creators, the workers, were at the helm delivering sustainable growth, decent employment with fair pay and delivering benefits across our communities?

Democratising our economy and workplaces through public, municipal and cooperative ownership in this way may seem radical, and it is given where we are today in the UK and Scotland, but in other countries it's not so.

For over thirty years, Marcora Law has given redundant workers in Italy the right to transfer their accumulated unemployment benefit into capital so they could buy out their company and create a workers co-operative.

It is an approach that has safeguarded thousands of jobs, created thousands more and the state has not only saved on unemployment payments but has saw a substantial return on their investment, which can then be reinvested in services or indeed other ways to provide co-operatives.

Imagine we had the same rights here?

Workers at AMP Control given the right to buy the company and safe their jobs.

Staff at Red Cross House and Hazeldene able to take over the facilities and continue providing the services that their vulnerable clients require.

It's bold. It's radical. It’s democratic.

It's the reason why I am a Scottish Labour and Co-operative candidate.

I am already doing work on the issue as a Councillor but if I am elected as the MSP for Cunninghame South in May I will be going into that Parliament with a determination to make progress on delivering a step change here in Scotland.

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