RISE Faces Demutualisation Threat at EGM
RISE is constituted as a common ownership co-op and its Memorandum of Association contains a pre-CIC type of asset lock, which directs the assets to be transferred to another common ownership social enterprise organisation if the co-operative is dissolved. However, unlike the CIC asset lock, there is no independent regulator enforcing it, so an EGM could possibly remove that lock. Also, unlike in many co-ops, there has been no requirement for new members to pledge to obey the RISE asset lock at an individual level and there has been no member education about common ownership in the last three years.
This demutualisation is the wrong solution for RISE because:
- there are social enterprises which do comply with the asset lock that could really benefit from the legacy at this time of budget cuts;
- the EGM is the day after the global launch of the United Nations International Year of Co-operatives, which is about promoting mutualism around the world and the RISE co-operative should support this;
- many RISE members are mutuals, including the world’s largest consumer co-operative and demutualisation would be embarassing to them;
- demutualisation should be discussed seriously, through a proper democratic process before the regular Annual General Meeting, not sprung from the board to members in a short meeting during the lunch break of another event;
- the proposal has not been published on RISE’s website or email newsletter;
- appointing the former directors of a dissolved co-op as trustees without member oversight seems unlikely to secure the assets in the long term.
software.coop will vote against the demutualisation, in favour of social enterprise, and calls on other RISE members to show solidarity with the co-operative and common ownership social enterprise movements.