Monday, 23 January 2012

2012 INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF COOPERATIVES - LESSONS FROM MERIDEN TRIUMPH FACTORY

Former Chairman of the Meriden Workers' Co-op John Rosamond commented today that in these times of political enthusiasm for "responsible capitalism" individuals considering participation in such ventures would gain an in depth insight from reading his book Save the Triumph Bonneville! The Inside Story of the Meriden Workers' Co-op. A detailed "warts and all" case study of the most famous of Tony Benn's worker co-operatives that, against all the odds, survived from 1975 to 1983: a period when the UK economy was similar to that of 2012 causing mass unemployment heading towards 3 million.

Based upon his Meriden experience Rosamond advises that co-ops should not been seen as a soft option to "normal" enterprise as they have to co-exist in the real world with exactly the same business disciplines, rules and regulations. However, the major advantage co-operatives do have is that employee participation in ownership guarantees total commitment and a share in the business' financial success. Perhaps if this approach is pursued more widely in the UK, the more equal and happy society politicians are looking for will result.

Save the Triumph Bonneville! The Inside Story of the Meriden Workers' Co-op is available from Veloce Publishing, good bookshops and online retailers. MP's can borrow a copy from The House of Commons library.



Extract from Tony Benn's foreword to Save the Triumph Bonneville -

"This book, which tells the story of the Meriden Motorcycle Co-operative, is one of the most important and relevant histories of British industry that I have ever read, and the reason is that it was written by somebody who was involved on the picket lines with workers determined to keep the plant open to the end, over ten years later.
"Visiting the plant and experiencing the excitement and innovation there was a real inspiration that can only come from industrial democracy, and offers us lessons for today.
"That is why this is such an important book, and I strongly recommend anyone interested in the future of Britain to read it carefully."

Tony Benn with a copy of the book. (Photo courtesy Erum Waheed).

Written by the ex-Chairman of the workers’ board of directors of the famous Meriden co-op, this is the real story of the last bastion of British motorcycle production following the collapse of the industry. It’s also the story of a workforce’s refusal to let the Triumph Bonneville die ...

"THE reference book about the Meriden Co-op and one which will be referred to by future historians." – Nacelle

"Any devotee of the British industry must read this book published by Veloce, which is a landmark publication that will no doubt be studied by scholars and students for many years to come." – inter-bike.co.uk