Here at Suma we are always keen to share information about cooperative working. We are proud to be a workers cooperative and proud to be part of a growing network of cooperatives in the UK which now contribute £37bn to the UK economy.
Last week we were delighted to welcome to Suma,
Mr. Haruyoshi Amano, Mr. Fumio Murata and Ms. Kanako Miyazawa,
representatives from The Japanese Consumers’ Cooperative Union (JCCU) who spent a day at Suma looking at the UK’s largest workers cooperative.
The JCCU represent 570 individual coops throughout Japan with 27 million members! A truly mind boggling number of people. A large proportion of members are in Home Delivery Networks, which supply a wide range of consumer goods and services to their members.
Other main areas are Institutional Co-ops, School Teacher and University Co-ops. They are also involved with supermarket-type stores, housing, mutual insurance, nursing care, furniture, and clothing. A new area of business is a healthy home-delivery meal service to the elderly.
The first consumer coop in Japan was set up in the late 19th century based on the Rochdale Pioneer model and became very popular in the 1940’s to help deal with poverty after WW ll.
They were very interested in Suma as an equal pay employer, where everybody is paid at the same hourly rate, irrespective of the job that they do. The other aspect of our business which they were fascinated to hear about was our multi-role working – most people here do two or three different jobs a week which helps the business and adds variety to our lives. There was a lovely vegetarian lunch in the Suma and vanilla sponge with cherries which went down extremely well with our visitors.
It will be interesting to see where our new relationship with them will lead, we have already discussed the possibility of hosting twenty or so of their representatives later this year, so they can study a big ‘workers coop’ in more detail.
It is always nice to show people around Suma, it serves to focus us on our unusual place of work. They were lovely guests to have. They state in their 2020 Vision of Japanese Co-ops that they are ‘dedicated to working with the people to realize a new society where smiles and trust abound’. They certainly brought lots of smiles with them and we very much look forward to keeping in touch.