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October 3, 2022

The Canary staff ‘overthrow directors’ to establish a co-op

By Bron Maher

Staff at The Canary say they have “overthrown” the left-wing news site’s management and are now running the publisher as a co-operative.

Companies House filings indicate the previous directors no longer hold shares in Canary Media Limited.

And workers at the site say it is now run by a new company limited by guarantee, “Canary Workers’ Co-op Ltd”, for which all staff are directors.

The Canary staff announced their takeover on Monday 3 October, writing in a statement that the outlet “is celebrating today after overthrowing its bosses and relaunching as the Canary Workers’ Co-op”.

However, Canary author Maryam Jameela wrote in one article on the site that “from June onwards, as a group of workers, we’ve been running the outlet as a co-operative”.

Another article, by long-time Canary writer Steve Topple, said: “Following the departure of a former director earlier in the year, staff members were given access to previously restricted systems.”

Companies House filings indicate that Canary co-founder Nancy Mendoza left The Canary in June 2022. Her wife, former Canary editor Kerry-Anne Mendoza, stepped away from the publication in September 2021 citing mental health reasons.

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According to Topple, Canary staff given access to the “restricted systems” found evidence of “gross inequalities and gross mismanagement that was rampant in the company”.

Jameela said in her article that directors “were supposed to be paid £13 an hour, editors £12 an hour, and writers £11 an hour”; instead, she alleged, directors were being paid through dividends that meant they ultimately earned more than that.

Topple also said there had been failings in the management of the site’s membership database and that overall there was a “culture of hierarchy and narcissism”.

“The physical manifestation of this was a business that was chaotic and collapsing,” he said.

The 15 staff now in control of the business say they have been left owing “tens of thousands of pounds in unpaid VAT” and £14,000 in employer’s national insurance payment liabilities.

Under the new system, staff say “we have a horizontal structure that allows for collaborative decision-making. We have mental health days written into our contracts. Everyone gets sick leave on full pay. And everyone receives the same rate of pay at £12 per hour.”

The new management confirmed to Press Gazette in an email that “We will be continuing with our membership-based model for income and are going to be having a team discussion, then a team decision, around what to do about advertising.” No advertising currently appears on the site.

The new payment model echoes that of another leftist news site, Novara Media, which pays all of its staff £18 an hour, with full-time staff working four-day weeks.

Press Gazette has approached Nancy Mendoza, Kerry-Anne Mendoza and former Canary editor Drew Rose for comment.

According to Press Gazette data, The Canary is the third most popular political news website in the UK.

Picture: Screenshot of The Canary website

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