Australia’s Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM) has joined a project to create open-source technology for creating worker-owned platform co-ops.
The Platform Cooperativism Consortium is an international initiative to develop a Platform Co-Op Development Kit. The consortium – which has just been given a $1m grant from Google – wants to provide software templates and best legal practices for workers in the gig economy looking to create their own sharing platforms.
The platform co-op model would allow workers in childcare, elder care, recycling and other sectors to keep the profits of their labour rather than give a cut to platforms such as Uber, Freelancer and Deliveroo.
The first stage of development work gets under way next month, before the consortium looks at building out data services, job training, legal templates and consultancy services.
Melina Morrison, chief executive of BCCM, said: “Co-operatively owned platforms are needed urgently to address the power imbalance between the people who do the work on platforms and the owners of the platforms.
“Employee ownership and community ownership gives workers and communities the chance to harness technological changes to the local economy as players, not passive participants.”
She added: “In areas like social care, platform co-ops deliver agency and empowerment for workers and high-quality and consistent services for consumers of disability and aged care. But their potential use is much more varied and wide.
“By embedding the traditional co-operative principles of fairness and community in digital technology, the Platform Co-op Development Kit will seriously challenge the established players in the sharing economy. It will make it easier instead for Australian workers to become our newest entrepreneurs and start their own labour-sharing platforms.”