Went over to Glasgow on Monday morning to speak at a fringe meeting at the Scottish TUC. It was organised by Communicate Mutuality Scotland, the think tank/pressure group lobbying for cooperative and mutual enterprise. The idea was to promote the concept of employee ownership, particularly in a form where workers come together in a trust or a cooperative to own a share, or all, of their business. It's a form of ownership which has had a long history in the UK, but it's still not as common here as it is in many other countries. I was invited to speak because as a Labour and Co-operative MP I've been involved in arguing the case in Parliament for more employee ownership (a few years ago, I successfully introduced a "Private Members' Bill" into Parliament which was designed to encourage collective ownership by workers of shares in the business which they worked in.
Jackson Cullinane of the TGWU Scotland spoke about the possibilities of worker coops or employee ownership in areas where unions were currently finding it difficult to organise, and we also had a very impressive speaker from the Amicus union in Ireland. Employees owning a substantial part of their business is a growing trend there - and the benefits are not just in the financial returns for the employees, but also the influence it can give them in important decisions about the future of their business. For example, the 15% share held by the employee trust in Aer Lingus was apparently an important factor in stopping Ryanair's takeover, to which I understand the unions were opposed.
A lot of interesting ideas at the meeting, and I hope we can do more to follow them up both in Scotland and in the UK.
And then down to London to get back to Parliament after our short Easter recess.