Mutual for the Self-Employed

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Mike Lewis and Pat Conaty:

"there is substantial demand among the self-employed for tax advice, bulk purchasing services, legal and professional assistance, pensions advocacy and support, peer learning opportunities, and access to social finance.The idea of a Mutual for the Self-employed that could offer national trade union representation for fair pay, credit union services, and co-operative services appealed to many interviewees.

Such a mutual has been developed by SEWA Bank in India and now boasts over one million members.The London Rebuilding Society (a community development loan fund) launched the first Self-employed Mutual project in London in 2009. It builds on an existing Mutual Aid Fund with over 6,000 members that has been operating for three years as a social investment service for 20 African immigrant associations.

Moreover, organizing strategies among the self-employed are already making real progress in the Netherlands,Germany, Italy, and Scandinavia.Their trade unions are bleeding membership year after year.To them and the international Unite Trade Union, organizing the self-employed into unions looks like a promising way to reverse this trend.A strategy that created strategic links between the self-employed, community and social finance, and trade unions could be hugely catalytic." (makingwaves volume 20, number 3, p. 41)