Trade union and co-working cooperative pledge to give power to the self-employed

[:en]The trade union, Community and indycube, a co-working social enterprise running a network of low cost desk space to independent and self-employed workers, have launched a new partnership to provide a comprehensive package of services and benefits for independent and self-employed workers across the UK.

The new partnership is the first of its kind in trade union history and will offer attractive, bespoke services for the estimated 5 million self-employed workers in the UK. The partnership is the product of months of work by indycube and Community, in the knowledge that trade unions are currently simply not equipped to meet the specific needs of the growing numbers of independent and self-employed workers.

The new platform, branded as ‘indycube Community’, offers all the best parts of Community’s traditional trade union support, such as expert legal advice and representation, but with additional specialist support on matters such as contract disputes, copyright law, intellectual property, and shareholder agreements, as well as many other areas relevant to self-employed workers. indycube Community will also offer business advice for starts up and freelancers, covering everything from invoicing and tax returns, to insurance and health & safety.

One major additional benefit indycube Community will deliver for self-employed workers is a comprehensive invoice factoring service, to end the scourge of late payments and cash flow crises. Late payments currently leave UK small businesses and freelancers £26 billion out of pocket. Invoice factoring services are normally only available to large, well-established companies, but using the collective strength of its membership, indycube Community is able to offer independent workers the security of always being paid on time for a very small fee.

Members of indycube Community will also have access to indycube’s growing network of co-working sites, providing low cost desk space as well as facilities such as creative studios and workshops. Most of the existing sites are in Wales, but the network is expanding rapidly, with additional sites across the whole of the UK to be added in the coming year.

John Park, Assistant General Secretary of Community, said:

“This partnership between Community and indycube will support self-employed workers like never before. We are taking the best bits of traditional trade unionism and making them relevant to modern, independent workers, and delivering them through an innovative online platform

“Millions of people in the UK survive in precarious self-employment; indycube Community has the potential to give real power and control to those workers, just as Community has done in traditional industries for centuries. We are proud of our heritage, but we know that to stay relevant we must meet the challenges of the modern world of work.”

Mark Hooper, founder and co-director of indycube, said:

“For several years, indycube has supported independent workers by providing low cost spaces to work, collaborate and socialise. Our partnership with Community is the next step in our journey and will give self-employed workers a collective voice and access to support and services that would normally be out of their reach.

“Whether someone is self-employed, a freelancer, or working in the gig economy, indycube Community will help make their working world better. No one has tried this before, and we are really excited about working to give support, representation and guidance to the millions of people in Britain who work independently.”

Cynnal Cymru Member Profile:

Indycube is a Community Benefit Society that offers a membership package to address the precarious nature of self-employment, freelance working and the gig economy. They started in Wales in 2010 and now operate across the UK connecting people and places, having developed a network of coworking spaces that supports freelancers and micro businesses. Coworking helps our users to stay within their local communities, preserving their money, talent, and enthusiasm for use in the local economy.

In June 2017, Indycube embarked on a partnership with the Community Union to establish the first Union for freelance and independent workers in the UK. In 2016 there were 4.7 million self employed people working in the UK and yet as a community they are under represented in terms of employment rights, influence on policy making and in terms of access to benefits and services. The number of self employed workers is set to rise to 10 million over the next five years and this raises many questions about the type of workplaces we will need for the future and the type of world we want to live in.

They launched their benefits package because they know working independently is precarious. It costs £10 a month and is available to anyone – members don’t need to be a user of our spaces to join up. The fee is inclusive of membership to our CBS (basic membership is £1/month), meaning that anyone who signs up gets a share in the organisation. Benefits currently secured include invoice factoring and cash-flow control, legal support and access to our member network, as well as access to our co-working spaces across the UK.

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