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Work together The global information bulletin on cooperatives and worker-owned enterprises in industry, services and crafts August 2009 - Issue N° 2

SUMMARY Editorial

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Intercontinental

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Latin America

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Europe

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Africa

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North America

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Asia

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Work together is a joint publication of CICOPA and CECOP Europe General coordination: Bruno Roelants Editors: Oli vier Bi ron and Antonio Amato Proofreading of the English version: Adrian Yip & Hazel Corcoran (Canadian Worker Co-operatives Federation) Graphi c design: jcse © CICOPA 2009

International Organisation of Industrial, Artisanal and Service Producers’ Cooperatives

European Confederation of Worker Cooperatives, Social Cooperatives and Social and Participative Enterprises

Contact: Avenue Milcamps 105 BE-1030 Brussels Phone: +(32) 2 543 10 33 Fax: +(32) 2 543 10 37 www.cicopa.coop www.cecop.coop cicopa@cicopa.coop cecop@cecop.coop

Crisis: cooperative answers and opportunities Editorial By Javier Salaberria, President of CICOPA The current crisis is impressive. It is deep, long, and universal, and it is affecting several different countries and sectors around the world. In our lives we have already experienced several crises but there are probably none that can be compared to this one. As the major supporters of capitalism would affirm, the economic system needs crises to reset its lost basic balance. The origin of this is the engine of the capitalistic system itself: profit. Profit leads to the accumulation and the irrational use of resources, the overproduction of goods and services, and it produces huge inequalities in the distribution of wealth.

Effects of the crisis on cooperatives: Survey among CICOPA members (page 3)

The origin of the current economic disaster came from the excesses of the financial system. The financial market’s omnipotent power, its greed and infinite egoism, led us into the abyss. We often talk about globalisation even if, at the moment, there is no global free movement of people and goods, but only of finan(continued on next page)

Ivano Barberini, the President of the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA), has died (page 4)

Argentina: The Constitutional Act of the National Confederation of Worker Cooperatives has been approved (page 5)


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WORK TOGETHER - ISSUE N° 2 - AUGUST 2009

Crisis: cooperative answers and opportunities (continued from page 1) Editorial by Javier Salaberria, President of CICOPA cial services and capital. The only globalised aspect support and empowerment from the public powers, of the economy is the most powerful and irrespon- we have adopted the “help yourself” mentality from sible financial market we have ever had. To whom the first moment our cooperatives came into bedoes it give account? Does anyone have the power ing. It is indisputable that we have already shown to judge the financial corporations and CEOs who resilience in tough times by keeping work places have led us to this situation? Governments stand functional. with no power to act, and there Not only do our existing enterare no international or global prises survive, but we re-launch “It is during the hard control institutions. A lot of disappeared or (almost) bankpeople have hopes of deep moments that we can rupt enterprises as well. There changes within the system, and are many examples of these demonstrate the value with no doubt some changes kinds of actions, but there is no will be made in order to inand utility of our people better example than the crease control. Nevertheless “recovered” enterprises in Arand institutions; it is a these actions will not affect the gentina and Brazil. good moment for the principles of the system. In Unemployment - truly globalfact, while we talk about the best among us... ” ised - will generate imperious existence of “green shoots” in need of jobs for a mass of peothe economic system of several countries, we can ple and the cooperative model has always been easily find other countries -the usual ones - startready to respond effectively to this need. We must ing again to talk about “turning back to the path” activate our organisations to support the creation of economic development. of new cooperatives that are economically viable. This crisis is not just financial; it is fundamentally affecting values. Capitalism should be rebuilt start- Finally, to face the dominant model of competition ing from simple values, such as: the production of and its principles of relentless war, supreme egouseful goods and services; the economy of services ism, and the possibility of destruction of the comto persons; a fair distribution of wealth; a model of petitor, we have to develop our best intercooperadevelopment for spreading equality; and achieving tion strain, without renouncing to being efficient a real globalisation of economic, educational and actors on the market. social achievements. Too much for the capitalist First of all, in the cooperative associations’ field, we system! should plan for the creation of federations and conWith no doubt, the downturn is affecting us in all federations, both at the national and international the productive sectors: agriculture, industry, ser- levels. We just had a wonderful achievement of this vices… But it seems that the crisis has not affected strategy in Argentina where recently the existing our cooperatives and cooperative financial institu- federations of worker cooperatives founded a Confederation (congratulations for your excellent and tions as much as expected, tenacious work, friends). At the which goes to show that there same time, the intercooperation “We must practice and is something that the traditional enterprises is essential, financial and political institudig deeper into our prin- among and I do believe that this is the tions should learn from us. ciples and values... ” 21st century’s challenge for the We must practice and dig cooperative movement. Being deeper into our principles and values: the centrality cooperatives means to “help each other”. We will of people and workers; the instrumental value of win all together. capital; economic democracy; solidarity, service and commitment to the community; the impor- It is during the hard moments that we can demontance of education… in a word: the social responsi- strate the value and utility of our people and institutions; it is a good moment for the best among bility of our enterprises. us, and a good opportunity for cooperatives and We should also take advantage of the opportunities their members. Society is waiting for our decisive present during times of crisis to gain society’s con- support and it will appreciate the cooperative fidence, especially in regards to worker coopera- movement for this. ◊ tives. Although we consider ourselves entitled to


WORK TOGETHER - ISSUE N° 2 - AUGUST 2009

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INTERCONTINENTAL

Effects of the crisis on cooperatives Survey among CICOPA members By Diana Dovgan and Valentina Amadori, CECOP-CICOPA Europe Since October 2008, the global financial crisis has led to the bankruptcy of many financial institutions in the USA and in European countries, and is threatening the global financial system. Concerned by the current economic crisis and its serious challenges for employment, sustainability of the enterprises and social cohesion, CICOPA (directly, and through its regional organisation CECOP-CICOPA Europe for European concerns) has launched in March 2009 a consultation among its members in order to have a better idea of the effects of the crisis on the affiliated enterprises. We have taken as time reference for the consultation the last quarter of 2008 up to now. Members in 18 countries (Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Colombia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Italy, Japan, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, South Korea, Spain, UK and USA) have responded to the survey. Here are the main conclusions of our analysis. IN EUROPE All of the consulted European countries report a downturn in production and sale of their activities during the last semester of 2008 and this is gradually worsening. SMEs and young cooperatives are the most affected. The most concerned sectors are: building, construction and textile sectors, as well as the service sector related to persons. In turn, Italian social cooperatives report good economic performance in 2008 and no significant reduction in production, nor turnover compared to previous years. Generally, all the enterprises encountered difficulties in accessing credit from traditional banks and report late payments from public authorities, whereas cooperatives banks are reportedly not tightening their loans as drastically. In spite of the difficulties, the number of job losses among European members is quite limited thanks to both external measures - Italy and France indicate the possibility for enterprises to introduce social security cushions like part-time jobs and redundancy funds – and internal measures - UK reports that worker-cooperatives are less likely to reduce jobs as they privilege forms of pay-cuts among their members rather than making workers redundant. In a number of cooperatives, members decided to not distribute 2008 surpluses. In the Mondragon cooperative group, worker-members of cooperatives with difficulties have been re-deployed in other enterprises of the group, a measure that had not been used, at least on a significant scale, over the last two decades. On the other hand, CECOP-CICOPA Europe members do not indicate any significant closures among their affiliated cooperatives so far. Meanwhile, we observe that conventional enterprises restructured by workers in cooperatives are on the in-

crease, and are expected to increase even more in the near future. Nevertheless, considering that the worse is still to come, our members plan to adopt measures to help their enterprises face the crisis: training activities for both workers and managers; chain production restructuring; cooperation with the cooperative credit system in order to ensure a better access to credit; support the access to governmental and EU programs; etc. In this context, micromeasures are not sufficient, and CECOP-CICOPA Europe members are also asking their national governments to set up simultaneous measures for an efficient recovery: reduction of tax rates in order to boost potential investments; increase in public spending for the most concerned sectors; better access to credit and reduction of late payments; measures supporting export; and special development programs for the cooperative sector in order to support the creation of new cooperative societies. AND THE REST OF THE WORLD Consulted members in the USA, Canada, Brazil, China and South Korea report a downturn in production and sales. The affected sectors are various as well: the USA report negative effects in the construction sector as well as in the catering industry; Canada (Quebec) in the forestry sector; in Brazil the most affected sectors are those of metal-mechanical industry and recycling; in China the export-oriented sectors. In Japan and Colombia, the services sector was hit, and Colombia also reports some negative consequences in the textile and clothing industry sectors. Similar trend as in Europe: job losses are almost nonexistent (only Brazil reports some), but some internal adaptation measures have been put in place, such as reducing hours or cutting wages. Only the USA reported closings among affiliated enterprises (homebuilders sector, which started in 2007 with the housing market crisis, new closings are anticipated in early 2010). Like in Europe, members unanimously reported difficulties in accessing credit from traditional banks, and in particular, access to start-up credit and lines of cash flow for currently operating cooperatives. South Korea, the USA, and Colombia mention the same problems for cooperative banks. Differently from Europe, noone is reporting late payment problems from public authorities. Nevertheless, Colombia complains about reduction of public contracts with worker cooperatives in some regions. Non-European members are generally less sceptical about the future. Even if the majority of them expect more difficulties to come, some countries see the crisis (continued on next page)


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as an opportunity to consolidate their activities (Colombia). Brazil even reports some recovery indicators. Specific measures are being put in place by members to face the crisis, that mainly concern access to finance, such as a worker ownership fund for loans (USA), and increasing the equity capital ratio through improving account balances (Japan). Colombia is promoting better cooperation between cooperatives in order to improve their production and benefits. Even if some governments have already set up measures to foster the recovery such as in South Korea where the government has decided to spend 60% of its annual budget in the first half of the year in order to promote job creation and to encourage economic activities; or in Brazil where the government is trying to increase access to credit with new credit lines and resources geared toward both investment and working capital and towards private consumption – members are conscious that more efforts need to be done. They have all asked their governments to put tax reduction measures in place, to facilitate access to credit system and guarantee funds, and make public markets more accessible for cooperatives. Some specific initiatives in favour of cooperative SMEs are being requested in the USA and Colombia (simplification of administrative procedures). Japan asked for emergency employment measures to prevent unemployment. Colombia suggests financial support for restructuring activities (production diversification, etc.), as well as measures to promote and facilitate the creation and development of enterprises in newly competitive sectors (information and communication technologies) or in agro-industry in rural areas.

WHY ARE OUR ENTERPRISES MORE RESILIENT? The relative resilience of our enterprises to the ongoing crisis can be explained through the very nature of worker and social cooperatives, and in particular the strength of worker ownership. Cooperatives are characterized by a special labour relationship where workers-owners hold sovereignty in entrepreneurial decisions and are fully responsible for the choices they make. We know that increases in productivity and competitiveness, today extremely necessary to face the challenges coming from the financial global crisis, may come from the level in which workers, who are not merely interested in a financial participation, can really participate in the decisionmaking process of the enterprises. Being member-based, our enterprises do not delocalize, and generally manage to keep jobs and economic activities locally, thus providing an important component of labour security to their workforce. Moreover, worker and social cooperatives have been able to develop fundamental skills, like their capacity to modernize their products, services or production processes, and their capacity to substantially modify their production lines or services. This capacity to combine flexibility and security, to adapt to change when preserving jobs and their local roots, is probably their main strength. Mutualised support institutions, in particular financial instruments, also play a major role in facing the current difficulties. The full C ICOPA report on crisis is available on our website at: http://www.cecop.coop/public_docs/RaportCriseEN.pdf.

Ivano Barberini, the President of the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA), has died The death of the ICA’s President Ivano Barberini on the 6th of May represents the loss of one of the most significant actors whom the Italian and international cooperative movements have ever known. During his presidency, the ICA underwent a deep strategic and structural reform, in which sectoral organisations as ours acquired a larger impact than in the past. Italian President Giorgio Napolitano reflected on the death of President Barberini with these words: “With his death we have lost a central representative of the Italian cooperative movement, one who struggled passionately for social civil progress and for peace”. Barberini was born in Modena in 1939. He cultivated his passion for the cooperative movement even before becoming an important voice in economic, social, and management research. He was director of Coop Modena and President of Coop Italia. From 1978 to 1996 he was President of Coop, National Cooperative Association of Consumers, and from 1990 to 1996 President of Eurocoop. From 1996 to 2002, Barberini was president of Legacoop. As of 2001 he was President of the International Cooperative Alliance. Since 2003 he presided over the Institute of International Research Archives on Disarmament. Founded in 1982, this research centre is dedicated to disarmament, peace and international security issues. His career and his great commitment reflect the passion that Barberini had for the cooperative movement. His friend Rita Levi Montalcini, a senator and famous scientist, wrote in a comment to one of Barberini’s latest publications that the cooperative represents the enterprise which is most able to manage the problems of our times, acting as a driving force based on two fundamental social principles: solidarity and development. ◊


WORK TOGETHER - ISSUE N° 2 - AUGUST 2009

LATIN

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AMERICA

Argentina

The Constitutional Act of the National Confederation of Worker Cooperatives has been approved By FECOOTRA he Constitutional Act of the National Confederation of Worker Cooperatives of the Republic of Argentina was signed on Saturday, May 30th, 2009, in the head office of FECOOTRA, in La Plata. More than 20 Federations participated in this historical moment for worker cooperatives.

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This event represents a stepping-stone for worker cooperatives in Argentina. The National Confederation will be an important instrument of representation, and will be able to reach deeper levels of integration inside the cooperative movement. Its aim is to have an impact not only on public policy, but also on the production system and on the national political agenda. It is important for the cooperative system in Argentina to reach such a level of integration in other sectors and with other organisations active in social economy.

PHOTO: FACTA

The social economy in Argentina currently represents 8.2% of GDP, but to have real effects on society and to sustain more equity it will be important to reach our goal of 20% of the national economy. This would indicate that the social economy enterprises would be in a position to fight for greater equity. ◊

Ecuador

Social Economy for Ecuador By Antonio Amato, CECOP-CICOPA Europe ocial Economy has become a pillar of the Ecuadorian

S economy. The Latin American country is going through a process of transformation with the recently enacted Constitution which recognises social economy to be on par with the capitalist economy and public economy. This is an important declaration that puts Ecuador at the leading edge on the continent. In the new Constitution cooperatives play a key role as an instrument for economic and social promotion, for social protection and development. Programs for social and economic development have been designed and will also be managed with the participation of the organisations of farmers, the representatives of ethnic minorities and with the contribution and sustainability of cooperatives banks.

Jeanette Sánchez, ministry for economic participation

Jeannette Sanchez, the Ecuadorian ministry for economic participation, was invited to the ‘Festival dell’Economia,’ an international round table which takes place every May in Trento, Italy, and on that occasion she said “ We believe that cooperation and solidarity are the tools to promote development and growth in our country”. ◊


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EUROPE European Union

Young Cooperators? Time for Erasmus! By Valerio Pellirossi, CECOP-CICOPA Europe 1. Erasmus: Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus, also know as Erasmus of Rotterdam, was a Dutch Renaissance Humanist, Christian theologian, and a great traveller. He was active in several universities of Europe, including Paris, Leuven, Cambridge and Basel. 2. Erasmus: The Erasmus Programme is a European student exchange programme that was established in 1987, which allows university students to spend a part of their academic career abroad. To this day, around 1.7 millions of students have been part of the exchange programme. 3. Erasmus: Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs, the new European exchange programme aimed at helping new entrepreneurs acquire relevant skills for managing a SME (Small or Medium-sized Enterprise) by spending time in another EU country. In order to promote European values and create the European spirit of the citizens, the European Commission launched the famous exchange programme in the late 80s. The experiment was a success, and in 20 years almost 2 million students have spent part of their academic careers abroad. It is undoubted that the word Erasmus means different things for everyone: exchange, intercultural dimension, study, and a lot more. What’s New? A few months ago, the DG Enterprise of the European Commission launched a new pilot programme in the field of mobility: Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs. This initiative has the aim of offering new entrepreneurs the opportunity to learn from new experiences, exchange knowledge, facilitate the search for new partners, create new networks among SMEs, and to find out more about opportunities in other EU countries. The first phase of the programme will implement 900 exchanges between young entrepreneurs and host enterprises. The cooperative movement is part of this programme and CoopErasmus is one of the 20 European Consortia created to manage exchange opportunities in cooperatives of several European Countries. CoopErasmus is composed of eight partner organisations from six different European Countries. How does the programme work? Seems simple: interested young entrepreneurs have to register through the programme’s website (http://www.erasmus-entrepreneurs.eu) and they have to choose one of the coordinating organisations to submit an exchange project. The co-ordinating organisation has the role to select the submitted projects and to co-ordinate the exchange with the host enterprises (and cooperatives!). There are already some unexpected outcomes of the initiative: The cooperative movement has surprised some of the bodies that are part of the pilot programme. During the preparatory activities for the 20 consortia that are running the programme, some of the organisations found that the cooperative model is an interesting and unforeseen alternative to traditional enterprises. Some of the universities, research bodies, and local administration that are also working on the programme, sincerely affirm that they are surprised and interested in the cooperative model as an important alternative, and a valid opportunity. Of course cooperatives are not always well known, and sometimes they are seen mainly as charity actors, or they are not easily seen as economic actors. This is an excellent opportunity to show that cooperatives are enterprises and workers are entrepreneurs! Social and worker cooperatives can host young entrepreneurs in the framework of this pilot project. Young cooperators can have the chance to be Erasmus Entrepreneurs. New social and worker cooperatives can be found taking part in this experience. CoopErasmus can be the way to do it! For more information about CoopErasmus, please contact Mirko Nodari at Cooperatives Europe: m.nodari@coopseurope.coop


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Italy

A little less profits but a little more jobs By Antonio Amato, CECOP-CICOPA Europe onfcooperative, one of the main Italian cooperative organisations, celebrated its ninetieth birthday during the general assembly that was held in Rome on May 26th. More than 1,000 people took part in this event including important representatives of the social, political, and economical life in Italy. Representatives of the Government, such as the Ministers of State Tremonti (Minister of the Economy and Finance), Sacconi (Minister of Labour Policy), and others took part in the meeting. In his message, the Confcooperative President Luigi Marino described the goals achieved and the future challenges for the cooperative movement.

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Confcooperative represents a system of 20,000 enterprises with 506,000 workers and an aggregate turnover of 62 billion Euros. More than half of those enterprises are in our cooperative sector (industry and service, social cooperatives), providing 75% of the total number of jobs. It has doubled its economic weight in the last ten years and is still growing during the present crisis, but worrying alarms are coming up mainly in the southern regions of Italy. Credit crunches and late payments by the public administrations are other issues to be solved coming out of the crisis. One of the strongest points emphasised by Luigi Marino is that the cooperative movement is growing as a whole, but an especially strong growth has been registered in social and worker cooperatives. Because a large portion of new cooperatives are constituted by new Italian citizens and new immigrants, the cooperative enterprises are playing a key role for social cohesion and integration. President Marino underlined the key role of cooperative enterprises as a tool to lead out of the crisis, but new and wide European and international rules are needed to bring the financing and the economy closer to reality. “A little less profits but a little more jobs” was the slogan launched by President Marino during the meeting.

FIGURES OF THE CONFCOOPERATIVE’S SYSTEM - 31.12.2008

SECTOR

AFFILIATED ENTERPRISES

MEMBERS

WORKERS

TURN OVER (in million €)

Housing

2.692

167.620

976

3.100

Agricultural and Food Industry

3.620

497.570

65.540

25.517

Consumption and distribution

669

283.100

9.790

9.130

Culture Tourism and Sport

1.438

323.218

14.329

562

Industry and Services

5.234

248.659

187.991

9.500

Mutuals / Services to Credit

178

292.200

1.011

128

Fishing

474

13.171

7.880

465

Social

5.179

199.214

184.025

4.590

432

940.000

35.000

2.964.752

506.542

Cooperative Credit TOTAL

19.916**

* Interest, proceeds, commissions income. ** In May 2009 cooperative enterprises affiliated went over the threshold of 20.000 units, registering a total of 20.050 enterprises.

8.801 * 61.793


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Interview of Luigi Marino, president of Confcooperative “A little less profits but a little more jobs” was your slogan from Confcooperative’s general assembly. This tough international crisis is putting us to the test, but we are sticking it out thanks to our DNA which is bringing us fewer profits but it is helping us to defend jobs. Our cooperative enterprises are close to the real economy, and we are convinced that finance and the market should not be left alone or interfere with choices of mutuality. It is for this reason that our enterprises asked for economic aid for unemployment for less than 1% of our staff, the Banks of Cooperative Credit actually growing in jobs, and annual turnover rate (118 billions €, +11.3) is three times more than the banks and credit sector average. In this way the Banks of Cooperative Credit are sustaining families and the SME. They are doing what banks should do: assuring financial oxygen.

What does the European Union lack in order to become a political actor pro-active in development? Political initiative. A reformed and influential political You emphasised the impetuous growth of worker soul is needed to manage its economic nature. We have and social cooperatives. How do you explain this the Europe of the euro, but we don’t have the Europe of phenomenon at the present moment, and what the policies. We need a policy with a long distance view, does it mean for the cooperative movement in Itactive, not controlled by technocracy and bureaucracy, aly? with the ability to stop the speeding of neoliberalism. We This cycle of growth is usually given by the anti-cyclical are adding to the disarray provoked by the excess of nature of the cooperative economy. To explain this cycle neoliberalism over the economic and financial world: of growth we need to consider the structure of this econfailure of the banks, unemployment, growing deficit, omy. The cooperative solution is fitting in sectors as sercrisis of production. We have to pay attention to the efvices for enterprises, especially in urban areas, in the fects in the energy and agriculture sectors that could new intellectual jobs, in services for people and families, cause nightmares of darkness and hunger. Economic and in the new networks of welfare. development and demographic growth go together for How do you consider the quality half of the global population. The “Cooperation is the best growing query on food production has of jobs provided by worker cooperatives and social cooperatives been concentrated on agriculture. tool for economic in terms of sustainability and According to the recent FAO data, democracy, because it quality of the participation? over one billion people are underfed; allows social and Cooperation is the best tool for ecoone sixth of the global population. An nomic democracy, because it allows economic emancipation alarming consideration is that malnusocial and economic emancipation of trition has become a problem for 15 of the person” the person. In worker and B type somillion people living in developed cial cooperatives, cooperation reaches its peak as far as countries. valuing the member is concerned: indeed, the workerWhere are the potentials and gaps in the cooperamembers become their own employers. tive movement in Europe? Do you have any advice Can you tell us about cases of enterprises in crisis for an organisation such as CECOP CICOPAor without heirs that have been converted into coEurope? operatives? The cooperative movement in Europe understood, even There are many examples. I am thinking about the Cirio before the member States, the importance of the EuroDe Rica’s buyout process held by Conserve Italia. Our pean public affairs conducted in Brussels. Decisions food farming cooperative plays an irreplaceable role in made in Brussels have a direct effect on cooperatives the Italian agricultural system. Italian cooperatives are and SME in Italy, France, Spain, Germany, Holland, etc. active in every sector and are some of the best brands The challenge for the cooperative movement in Europe that fall under “Made in Italy”. Valuing of local territory is, and it will be even more, to anticipate the events, and of local products are the big challenges pursued by and to understand the needs of the associated enterour agricultural cooperatives and by hundreds of memprises guaranteeing the best representation: working bers. today while thinking about tomorrow. ◊


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Spain

Worker Cooperatives facing the economic crisis By COCETA There were fewer worker cooperatives created in 2008 than in previous years. The economic crisis has touched the growth of the cooperative movement, which created 1.7% fewer enterprises than in 2007. The corresponding data have been registered by the Spanish Confederation of Worker Cooperatives (COCETA), and presented during its annual meeting in Murcia. espite the negative data, the figures concerning worker cooperatives are better than the business corporations, which registered a loss of enterprises of 7%. Furthermore, in Spain, worker cooperatives increased the employment rate by 0.12%, in comparison to the total amount of employment.

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“This crisis is not affecting cooperatives in the same way as the majority of enterprises, [because] it is a financial crisis”, said Juan Antonio Pedreño, who was re-elected as President of COCETA during the assembly. He continued, “This moment is showing a crisis of values and, on this field, cooperatives have the advantage because our model is based on the values that drive our enterprises”. Presently, 18,625 worker cooperatives exist in the country, employing 300,000 people (members and non-

member workers). It represents 1.64% of people working in Spain. The largest type of existing cooperatives in the country is worker cooperatives, followed by housing cooperatives (3,200), and transport cooperatives (2,400).

“Despite the negative data, the figures concerning worker cooperatives are better than the business corporations... ” One of the most important features emerging from the data on worker cooperatives in 2008, and which also repeats itself in the history of cooperation, is that the majority of people working in these enterprises are members, and the remaining 20% have an open-ended contract. The data also implies that in the course of the previous years, two main characteristics are differentiating worker cooperatives: their size is smaller and they have an increasing presence in the service sector. Women’s and immigrant employment One of the main aspects of worker cooperatives is linked to women’s employment. According to the analysis of the Labour and Immigration

Italy:

Remembering the cooperators Confcooperative and Federcasse remember the tragedy of the plane crash in which Italian cooperators lost their lives. Giovanni Battista Lenzi, Luigi Zortea and Rino Zandonai, were active in Brazil in several projects of development. They were coming back from their missions on board Air France flight 447 from Rio de Janeiro when it fell over the Atlantic Ocean on the 31st of May 2009.

Ministry, the percentage of women in cooperatives (worker cooperatives, agriculture, housing, consumer, education, maritime, decrit, transport, and services) is higher among workers who have a fixed-term contact than those who have an open-ended contact. However, this trend is the opposite for worker cooperatives as the members and consequently, the leaders, represent 73.7% of women who work in the company. On the other hand, 39.4% is the percentage of women who have a managerial role and is much higher than in other entrepreneurial forms. Another relevant consideration is that increasing interest in cooperatives has been demonstrated by immigrants. As in 2007, 10% of people creating cooperatives in Spain came from abroad. In 2008 and 2009, COCETA had been making efforts to improve the environment for its enterprises finding financial agreements and acting for the support from autonomous communities for the awarding of financial aid to cooperatives. Pedreño assures that government, financial institutions, cooperatives enterprises, and social economy enterprises will share this responsiblity. For more information: COCETA Communications Department prensa@coceta.coop | www.coceta.coop


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Czech Republic

International European Conference on the Social Economy and Social Enterprise in Prague By Olivier Biron, CECOP-CICOPA Europe

The European conference on Social Economy took place in Prague from April 16th – 18th in Prague. It was organized by SCMVD, the Czech Union of production cooperatives, and also a CECOP member, in collaboration with the Confederation of Employers and Entrepreneurs’ Associations, and with the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. he conference, which took place in the framework of the Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union, was strengthened by the participation of Czech and European politicians such as Vladimir Spidla, EU Commissioner for emVladimír Špidla - EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportuployment social affairs and equal nities – at the opening of the conference. On his right: Jan Wiesner, President of SCMVD opportunities, who opened the conference. He emphasised that abled people and the cooperative has a sheltered workthe European Commission gives great importance to enterprises with social vocation; these enterprises pro- shop statute. The second cooperative experience presented was the Grand Magasin (http://legrandmagasin. mote social protection and, especially in the context of coopseurope.coop). This space is used for exhibitions the present crisis, they represent a potential for new and sales in Berlin, and is dedicated to products made jobs in Europe. by European worker cooperatives. The opening session was an occasion for describing the The speakers underlined the uniqueness of social econgood practice experiences of two cooperatives. The omy enterprises as vanguards of great potential for the first one, ERGOTEP, is a Czech social cooperative, creation and preservation of durable jobs. Above all, founded in 2003, which includes disabled people by there is the capacity of these enterprises to face the creating jobs adapted to their competences and capaglobal economic crisis. These social economy actors bilities (http://www.ergotep.cz). The founders are disasked for better recognition of the characteristics of their enterprises, for their contribution to social cohesion, for their creation of durable jobs, and for their battle against global warming. A concrete demonstration of this capacity of the cooperative movement was made by Iain McDonald, the general director of the International Cooperative Alliance, who described the case of the list Global300 which shows the important role played in the economy by cooperative enterprises at national and global levels (http://www.global300. coop).

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The conclusions and all the material from the conference are available on http://www.seconference.cz/ zaver.html. ◊


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Slovakia

Award to the Best Employers of Disabled People By Helena Capova, Coop Product Slovakia n Slovakia, the inclusion of disabled people into the working process in worker cooperatives has existed since the very beginning of their history. The first cooperatives employing disabled people were created after the First World War, and larger development came in the 50‘s and 60‘s. Their further development was influenced by various changes, which occurred either in legislative or in systemic solutions. At the present time, which is marked by a large uncertainty in many sectors of the economy, those entities that employ disabled people are specifically facing the risk of the market policy. Therefore, it is very significant to perceive these issues from the perspectives of both disabled workers and employers who are also, to some extent, disadvantaged. It is important to draw the attention of state administration officials to the need for an active solution of employment for disadvantaged people. The Awards to the best employers of disabled people is one of the actions aiming to give more visibility to those who have adopted an active approach to solve those problems.

I

This activity, held at the end of March in the premises of Coop Product Slovakia, was organised by the Association of Disabled People Employers of which Coop Product Slovakia is a member. During this festive

event, Dusan Caplovic, Deputy Prime Minister of the Government of the Slovak Republic for KnowledgeBased Society, European Affairs, Human Rights and Minorities took part. In his speech, he said that in addition to providing and guaranteeing the right to work to disabled people, the most important thing for them is to have a real possibility of being employed. Before the presentation of the award, Dusan Caplovic met Iveta Chmelova, the chairwoman of Coop Product Slovakia and Pavel Siroky, the Vice-President of the Association of Disabled People Employers who gave more information about the objectives and mission of this organisation. Based on achievements in the economic and social fields, the Award was open to several employers. Among the award winners, there were 4 producer cooperatives: Okrasa ,from the city of Cadca, Rozkvet producer cooperative from Banska Bystrica, Doza - producer cooperative from Sobrance, and Univerzal, producer cooperative of disabled people from Piestany. The festive event was also the occasion to present a cultural programme prepared by the members of the Association of Mentally Disabled People of Vranov and Toplou. ◊

Germany / Italy

Cooperatives: a solution to the crisis? By Valerio Pellirossi, CECOP-CICOPA Europe t is a widely recognised matter of fact that the “cooperative world” has responded better to the current economic downturn than many of the other economic models. This does not mean that the crisis is not affecting us as the recent consultation among CECOP members confirmed. Cooperatives are making a strong effort to overcome this critical situation with a common objective: to maintain the current level of employment, and respond positively to the economic challenges. In a recent speech, the president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, recognised that “cooperative businesses that have stayed faithful to cooperative values and principles, and the cooperative banks which rely on members’ funds and are controlled by local people have generally been able to resist the crisis very well”.

I

The crisis, however, could provide more than challenges to “our world”. In fact, an unexpected opportunity could be hidden in the crisis itself. We are talking about “cooperativisation”. In countries like Spain, France, Italy, as well as Argentina, Brazil, and others, cooperativisation

is a concrete solution to the bankruptcy of “traditional enterprises”, and the consequent loss of jobs is already a reality. The cooperative model can be used to react against the crisis. There are many experiences in those countries that tell us about workers who decided to become owners of the enterprise that was hiring them, or about existing cooperatives that buy enterprises in crisis with the aim of transforming them into worker cooperatives. These new cooperative enterprises often set up networks to consolidate the production system, and efficiently manage the interaction between demand and supply. The cooperative model is attracting more and more attention. Recently Corriere della Sera, one of the main Italian newspapers, put the light on the “cooperative world” in several articles. In the most recent article, published on May 15th 2009, it affirmed that workers are the concrete solution to this crisis, and reported two new stories of enterprises in danger that were bought by the workers. (continued on next page)


12 WORK TOGETHER - ISSUE N° 2 - AUGUST 2009 Towards a German support system to “cooperativisation” The “cooperativisation system” in Italy is now the object of study. A German delegation of experts and jurists recently organised a visit to Italy to study the Marcora law, the Italian law supporting the cooperativisation of enterprises in crisis. The law was approved during the 80’s in order to support the transmission of ownership of enterprises in crisis to the workers as an answer to the economic crisis that the country was facing at that time. Today the system is still active. CFI, an institution founded by the three Italian confederations of cooperatives, Confcooperative, Legacoop and AGCI, provides concrete support and advisory services, as well as part of the share capital to the workers who want to become owners of their enterprise in crisis. The idea of the study visit came from professor Clarita Müller Plantenberg, who has been active since the early 90’s in research, studies, and dissemination in the field the social economy in Germany. It all started when CECOP helped Prof. Müller Plantenberg organise a first field visit to Italy with her students three years ago. The objective of this visit was clear and concrete: draft a Marcora law for Germany and lobby for it. That was why the German group was hosted by CFI, and which explained the law and the support measures provided by CFI to the workers in detail. The group also visited four Italian worker cooperatives

created with the help of CFI and the Marcora law. The reaction of the group was deeply positive: “this action is undoubtedly meaningful and powerful…” affirmed Giuliana Giorgi, expert and interpreter for the group, “…and the outcome is clear: we enable the workers to keep their jobs and to become protagonists. When an enterprise closes down for bankruptcy, it is more than a badly managed or inefficient body leaving space to more efficient or stronger enterprises, as the neo-liberal point of view has it. Employees are losing their jobs. There is a loss for the whole environment and the identity of the territory. There are problems related to the economic activities connected to the failing enterprise. There are expenses disbursed by the state and the welfare system, which, in the end, are paid by all the citizens!” She also affirmed “The state can choose between spending money on unemployment benefits and insurance, or using funds in order to enable workers to keep their jobs and to produce and, at the same time, become owners of the enterprise”. The experts and jurists of the group did not waste time: a German version of the Marcora law was written and presented on May 27th. Now, the German group is planning to lobby the institutions and, at the same time, is planning several initiatives to explain to citizens the meaning and power of cooperativisation. Events and seminars will take place this summer in Germany with this objective, e.g. the summer social economy academy that will be held in Karlsruhe. CFI will be supporting this initiative. ◊

United Kingdom

The time is right to promote the ‘Cooperative Advantage’ By CooperativesUK Business leaders within cooperatives believe the time is right to push the ‘Cooperative Advantage’, a survey conducted by CooperativesUK has revealed. Chief executives of top cooperative businesses (representing an annual turnover of some £11.6 billion) also think the sector should work more closely with mutuals and other likeminded organisations to actively promote their business models. 86% of respondents to the Cooperative Business Confidence Survey agreed that there has never been a better time to promote the values and principles of cooperatives which include democratic control, joint ownership, concern for the community, and care for the environment. The results of the survey, completed by chief executives of the businesses in the Cooperative UK 100, the annual ranking

of the UK’s largest cooperative enterprises, show that there is a strong belief that the ethos of the cooperative movement will provide an advantage compared to other forms of business. In addition, 87% of respondents thought the time was right for the cooperative movement to work closely with the mutual sector to promote their comparable business models. Many think that the current financial climate offers a real opportunity for the cooperative economy: 66% expected cooperatives to become more competitive and 73% agreed that cooperatives were better placed to respond to the downturn because of a long term view of the development of their business. The survey showed that the views of cooperative sector leaders were broadly in line with other predictions for the UK economy – an expectation that the recession and unemployment will be problems for

the next three years and that more businesses will fall into administration. On the whole, the mood of respondents was generally positive about the future. 73% didn’t expect to lose competitiveness or market share due to the economic downturn and, of those that did, 40% felt that it would have no significant impact on their cooperative’s financial position. 
 
 Dame Pauline Green, Chief Executive of CooperativesUK, said: “This Business Confidence Survey has provided a valuable insight into the views of the largest cooperatives in the UK at the current time. The results confirm what we thought – that there’s a good deal of confidence in the cooperative model and a strong belief in the cooperative advantage as a sustainable, trusted and socially responsible form of business.” ◊ For more information: http://www.cooperatives-uk.coop


WORK TOGETHER - ISSUE N° 2 - AUGUST 2009

13

In the press: Malta On International Cooperatives Day (4 Jul y 2009), the Times Malta focused on cooperatives CICOPA member Koperattivi Malta in its weekend edition. This is an opportunity to learn more about the current business model on the island. Excerpts…

Uniting and serving cooperatives The Times Weekender (The Times Malta), 4 July 2009 (extracts) Amanda Garzia learned that the state of cooperatives in Malta is set to improve in the near future as Koperattivi Malta plans to bring about change in public perception of cooperatives. After the recent collapse of the financial systems knocked the lid off capitalism, it was difficult to imagine a business model that was not caught up in a tangle of greed and exploitation. A close look at cooperative principles reveals a commitment towards the ideal of social justice that serves to mitigate the scale of wrongdoings that were exposed in the last few months. The theme for this year’s International Cooperatives Day was ‘Driving Global Recovery Through Cooperatives’. It points to a system that has always distanced itself from the idea that profit takes precedence over people. Back in 1932, the International Cooperative Alliance decided to invite cooperatives worldwide to celebrate their very own day on an annual basis. From then on, the first Saturday of every July, was chosen to be that day. Ray Cassar, chief executive officer of Koperattivi Malta, explains that the well-being of members always comes before the need to generate profit. “This is, indeed, a basic principle which guides our way of getting work done. In a cooperative, a member is safe in the knowledge that he or she is in a one-for-all and all-for-one type of enterprise. The implication is that safeguarding jobs is a priority even in situations where doing so means that little or no profit will be made”.(…)

Ray Cassar, CEO of Kooperattivi Malta

Malta plans to bring about change in the way their operations are perceived by the public. “We are seeking to promote a deeper understanding and appreciation of the cooperative model”.

Mr Cassar believes that the public’s perception of the way cooperatives do business is based on sketchy impressions. Cooperatives themselves may have contributed to this by “The overall performtheir tendency to be inwardance of cooperatives looking. This, added to the fact that during the crisis will, Mediterranean people are perhaps undoubtedly, bolster lo- less inclined to be team players than others, goes a long way to cal effort to present the explain why the cooperative is not model as a feasible alter- so popular on the island despite the potential in so many sectors.

native to other ways of doing business.”

Because of Malta’s aging population, cooperatives can, for example, run a viable operation by expanding and providing services in the areas of care-giving, health, insurance, and waste management. They can also encourage female participation in the workforce because of the cooperative philosophy that offers equal opportunities to all. Two years ago, Koperattivi Malta named its first female president, Rosette Thake.

In Malta, there are about 60 cooperatives, 40 of which are highly active. These include the traditional coops in agriculture and fisheries. Other sectors include transport, tourism, fair trade, health and community services-restoration, archaeology, media, management, and marketing consultancy. While the activity is spread over a variety of areas, the actual number of Studies and training courses are being carried out with businesses is relatively small considering the popular- the aim of assessing and assisting the start-up of cooperatives on the local scene. Koperattivi Malta would ity of cooperatives in other European countries. (…) like to encourage people to understand that theirs is a The state of cooperatives in Malta is set to improve on valid business concept that holds a lot of potential, a number of counts in the near future as Koperattivi

(continued on next page)


14 WORK TOGETHER - ISSUE N° 2 - AUGUST 2009

particularly in sectors that have not, as yet, been taken into consideration.

International Day of Cooperatives: "Driving Global Recovery through Cooperatives"

One of the training initiatives offers members the opportunity to travel abroad. It can prove to be a learning experience that benefits both hosts and visitors. While members must gauge their compatibility with each other, this does not mean that differences are in any way looked down upon.

This year, the International Cooperatives Day was celebrated worldwide on 4 July 2009, and focused on the fact that cooperatives are enterprises that contribute effectively to global economic recovery in respect of the cooperative values and principles that guide their operations.

The overall performance of cooperatives during the crisis will, undoubtedly, bolster local effort to present the model as a feasible alternative to other ways of doing business. In a country where people are often heard saying “Kuntent ften, kuntent Kulhadd” (which means sarcastically: “if I am satisfied, then everybody is”), it is normal to ask aloud whether we are ready to welcome the brand of team spirit which makes the cooperative so unique. Whether or not we can go from a do-as-I-please cheekiness to a higher acuity remains to be seen, and is challenge to be tackled head-on. Reproduced with the kind permission of Times Malta

To read the full article, go on http://www.cicopa.coop/public_docs/TimesMalta.pdf

The role of cooperatives in economic, social, and cultural development is recognized by the United Nations. In resolution 47/90 of 16 December 1992, the General Assembly proclaims "the first Saturday of July 1995 to be International Day of Cooperatives, marking the centenary of the establishment of the International Cooperative Alliance, and it considers the possibility of observing an international day of cooperatives in future years .” In its message for this International Cooperatives Day, the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) highlighted the results of a recent study commissioned to the ICA by the International Labour Organisation (ILO)1. It shows that good performances can be registered in every sector where cooperative enterprises are active. More people are choosing the cooperative form of enterprise to respond to the new economic realities. The success of cooperatives is measured not only on their capacity to serve economically the member’s needs, but also on the social and cultural aid that cooperative enterprises project on the social life returning social cohesion, and social equity to members and communities. Sources: http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/social/intldays/Int lCoops/ and http://www.ica.coop/activit ies/idc/2009.html

AFRICA Tanzania

Cooperative Facility for Africa: Generous help for Cooperatives in Tanzania to cooperate out of poverty By TFC, the Tanzanian Federation of Cooperatives The Cooperative movement in Tanzania, under the umbrella organization of the Tanzania Federation of Cooperatives, is now benefiting from the Challenge Fund (CF) provided under the Cooperative Facility for Africa (CoopAFRICA) program. ith nine member countries, the CoopAFRICA Project has enhanced members of the Tanzania Federations of Cooperatives Ltd to become modern cooperative societies.

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The project has already benefited many cooperative societies, enterprises, and companies in the country. The Dunduliza Network, being among the Challenge Fund beneficiary cooperatives in the country, has managed to use the fund to raise the company’s liquidity to about TSh. 2.5 billion with 38 small society members. The project has enabled the organization to implement an Interconnection System in the Dunduliza SACCOS Network, making it the model society among cooperatives in the country.

CoopAFRICA is aimed at helping people cooperate in their efforts on reducing poverty as well as mitigating different developmental challenges such as unemployment, social security, and lack of facilities. Working along the eastern and southern regions of the Saharan desert under the Co-operative Development Program, CoopAFRICA collaborated with the Tanzania Federation of Co-operatives Ltd at bringing to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals in the country, promoting decent work in Tanzania by promoting self-help initiatives, mutual assistance in communities and crossborder exchanges through the cooperative approach. The Cooperative Facility for Africa, commonly known as CoopAFRICA, is a program that facilitates cooperatives in Africa. It is a professional program that is largely sponsored by UK Department for International Development (DFID), aiming at raising development of cooperative movements in Africa. Its headquarters is at ILO offices in Dar es Salaam Tanzania. ◊


WORK TOGETHER - ISSUE N° 2 - AUGUST 2009

15

Africa’s cooperative movement campaigns re: HIV/AIDS

Promotion of “Know your HIV Status” among Cooperative Members By TFC, the Tanzanian Federation of Cooperatives ike any other business enterprise

L in Africa, the development of the cooperative movement has been seriously affected by the prevalence of HIV and AIDS. HIV and AIDS have caused huge loss of income for members and reduced membership, loss of working hours, loss of knowledgeable and skilled staff, reduced productivity

and raised the cost of living. Generally the epidemic is negatively impacting the capacity of cooperatives in Africa to be economically and socially effective organizations. To mitigate and minimize the impact of HIV and AIDS in the cooperative movement in Africa, ILO under the CoopAFRICA programme is implementing a project that mobilizes cooperatives and CBOs to address HIV and AIDS at their work places. The project aims to improve the living conditions and status of women and men infected and affected by the HIV/AIDS who work in the sectors of the informal economy. The project strengthens the capacity of cooperatives to play both roles, as a channel for HIV/AIDS prevention initiatives, and as a tool for impact mitigation. The project has had tremendous success in Tanzania for its work at all levels of cooperative organizations, both primary cooperative societies and cooperative umbrella organizations (Unions and Federations). In Tanzania the project has collaborated with the Tanzania Federation of Cooperatives (TFC) to carry out educational and Voluntary Counselling and Testing campaign during the long Cooperative Week, organized by TFC towards the celebration of International Cooperative Day (ICD) in Mtwara region, south of Tanzania’s mainland. About 414 people at the grounds and in the surrounding communities went through counseling and testing for HIV. Among the 414 people who visited the VCT at the ground 16 (3.8%) tested HIV positive where women counted 10 (6.2%) and 6 (2%) were men). Those who tested positive were given post-testing counselling and necessary support for the CD4 testing and other information deemed important for the new HIV/AIDS cases. Brochures and other HIV/STI/TB educational materials were distributed at the VCT tents, emphasizing the importance of referring STI/HIV positive persons to clinics/hospitals for follow-up and staging. ◊


16 WORK TOGETHER - ISSUE N° 2 - AUGUST 2009

NORTH

AMERICA

Canada

Fire the Boss! The Only Path to Worker Ownership & a New Cooperative Way? By Hazel Corcoran, CFWC Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis, Canadians who made the film The Take in 2004 about worker takeovers in Argentina, have recently written a blog posting called “The Cure for Layoffs: Fire the Boss!” [http://www.naomiklein.org/ articles/2009/05/cure-layoffs-fireboss]. In it they passionately make the case for hostile worker takeovers as a response to the economic crisis. Although they mention worker cooperatives generally, their focus is mainly on protests, “bossnappings”, sit-ins and the like. In response, Philosophy professor Joseph Heath wrote an opinion piece which appeared in at least four Canadian daily newspapers entitled: “Economics for lefties: Coops sound great if you hate big corporations. Not so great if you care about how they work in real life”: http:// www.ottawacitizen.com/Business/ Economics+lefties/1633305/ story.html. Professor Heath states that, "Klein and Lewis, I must admit, make me a bit crazy. … They blame problems on totally fictitious causes, then recommend solutions that are guaranteed not to work. Like coops. … Coops are not a ‘cure for layoffs.’ They cause unemployment.” As Gandhi said: “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.” If we believe this, then we are 3/4s of the way there! Of course in the cooperative way, if “we” win, everybody wins. The point would be to get away from having winners and losers. It’s about creating an economy in which people matter more than profit; in which we create an environment where people are free to discover the gifts that they bring to this world and have a way to develop them and contribute them to the common good. There was a vociferous response to Heath’s opinion piece by Canadian cooperators through various letters to

the editor, with every point refuted. You can see some of these letters printed as comments at the bottom of the Ottawa Citizen site, above; and also here: http:// ww.ottawacitizen.com/Business /topic.html? t=Person&q=Joseph+Heath. Unfortunately, Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis have not included commentary in their blog on the full scope of the worker coop movement that has arisen around the world. In Europe, for example, there are approximately 50,000 worker coops with over 1.4 million worker-owners, and many are manufacturing businesses. In the region in and around Mondragon, Spain, where the economy is based on worker cooperatives, there is lower unemployment than in other regions of Spain. CICOPA notes that “in France alone, in 2007, there were 70 cases of business transfers to employees.” The European Parliament has recently passed a resolution in favour of the social economy, which supports business transfer to cooperatives, 580 votes to 27 with 44 abstentions. The success of worker cooperatives, especially in Europe demonstrates the great potential there is for North American workers. In Canada, there is an exciting collaboration going on including the Worker Coop and Labour Movements as reported in the first issue of Work Together, www.coopzone.coop/ worker , on p. 14. Similar efforts are underway in the US, with a conference on labour solidarity and worker coops planned for early August, 2009: www.east.usworker.coop. Avi Lewis has been very supportive of cooperatives and spoke at the Canadian Cooperative Association Congress several years ago. He said, “People are absolutely starving for alternatives to our broken system. But they aren’t getting them – they don’t KNOW about them – and that’s

where cooperators will either seize the moment, or watch history pass us by. … It is, after all, when the market fails that cooperatives have historically come to the rescue of communities, economic sectors, even whole ways of life. … “This is both a major challenge and a huge opportunity for you as cooperators right here in Canada. These sites of creative resistance, of urgent struggle and deep cooperation are often not even on the radar…. They need to be.” We need to not only fix the economic system, but to replace it with a cooperative one whose basic goal is to meet human needs. It is time for those with a shared belief in cooperative values to act in concert for positive change. Surely there is a way to write this story so that the worker cooperative movement (even the whole cooperative movement) is championed as the needed response to the global economic crisis – it can be not only a story of good, but also a great story. Naomi Klein & Avi Lewis speak and write with passion and eloquence. We need the voices of Naomi Klein, Avi Lewis, and other well-known commentators in support of the worker coop movement, including the nascent labour/worker coop collaborations in North America. We need their influence to bring other voices of support to the cause, particularly at a time when the corporate-controlled media is spreading some misleading, negative information about the worker coop and broader coop movements. We have an opportunity to build momentum through the voices of established social commentators to the practical steps being taken by activists working in the field. Then, indeed, we may be more than 3/4s of the way, according to Gandhi, to overcoming our broken economic system! ◊


WORK TOGETHER - ISSUE N° 2 - AUGUST 2009

17

ASIA China

70th Anniversary Celebration of the ICCIC held in Beijing By Du Yintang, ICCIC—Gung Ho

The 70th Anniversary Celebration of the ICCIC (International Committee for the Promotion of Chinese Industrial Cooperatives or the Gung Ho International Committee) was held in the Meeting Hall of the Former Residence of Soong Ching Ling in Beijing on June 29th, 2009. The ICCIC is an international nongovernmental organization that aims to promote Chinese industrial cooperatives. ichael Crook, Vice-Chair of the

M ICCIC, delivered an opening

speech at the ceremony. He welPHOTO: ICCIC comed the distinguished guests and gave a brief history of the organization. He said he looked forward to a new era of the ICCIC with a mission of furthering the establishment and development of cooperatives in China. The attendees included Karen Carlson Loving, granddaughter of Lt. Col. Evans Carlson of the U.S. Marine Corps and some members of Carlson's Raiders. Carlson was a military attaché at the U.S. embassy in China in the late 1930s. He chose "Gung Ho" as the motto for his elite battalion. By late 1942, it was widely adopted throughout the Marine Corps as an expression of spirit and a "can do" attitude. During the ceremony, the guests joined a chorus in singing the National Anthem of the People's Republic of China, and guests from the United States sang the "The Marine Corps Hymn." Also at the ceremony, Carlson's Raiders were presented with a silk banner for their dedication to spreading the Gung Ho spirit and motto "Work Hard and Work Together." Carl Worker, New Zealand's Ambassador to China; Isabel Crook, a consultant for the ICCIC; Tang Wensheng, Vice-chair of the China Soong Ching Ling Foundation; and Xie Yuan, Director of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, attended the celebration ceremony. ◊

Background: The History of the ICCIC and Gung Ho The Gung Ho movement was started in 1937 in Shanghai by Rewi Alley of New Zealand and some other foreigners together with a group of Chinese patriots as an industrial resistance movement against the Japanese who were systematically bombing Shanghai factories in order to bring China’s economy to its knees. The movement developed in several provinces of the Chinese hinterland, producing badly needed civilian goods as well as supplies for the Chinese army. At its peak in the early 1940s, the movement counted over 3,000 cooperatives across the country. To win support from abroad, and to collect funds for development and ensure the proper use of foreign aid, the ICCIC was founded in Hong Kong in January 1939. The work of the committee soon won support among the overseas Chinese and people worldwide. A strong international movement of solidarity with Gung Ho developed, in particular with the US, Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand. The movement also included training institutions, which regrouped in 1944 in Shandan (Gansu province), where the children of cooperative members and war orphans received training in various industrial skills. ICCIC suspended its work in 1952 and was revived in 1987. Since that year, the ICCIC has supported a large number of cooperatives in different provinces in China for training on cooperative principles, environment improvement and poverty alleviation. The success of ICCIC's projects has strengthened its ties with other cooperative organizations at home and abroad.


18 WORK TOGETHER - ISSUE N° 2 - AUGUST 2009

Asia-Pacific

Enhanced Role of Cooperatives in Recovery from the Economic Crisis Conference of 2, 3 & 4 July 2009 at Bangkok By Rajiv I.D. Mehta, Deputy Regional Director, ICA Asia Pacific

The conference on the ‘Enhanced Role of Cooperatives in Recovery from the Economic Crisis’ was organized by ICA Asia Pacific in collaboration with the Cooperative League of Thailand, and the Indian Farmers Fertilizer Cooperative. The objective of the conference was to create a shared vision on the scope and role of cooperatives in the global economic crisis, and to devise a common strategy to reposition cooperatives as a significant alternative. 75 participants from cooperatives and governments of 16 countries in the Asia pacific region attended the conference. The basis of deliberations was thematic presentations made by experts from ICA (the Director General, ICA and Secretary General, CICOPA), top officials of successful cooperative organisations, such as NACF, IFFCO, JCCU, SNCF, AACCU, CPD, and government officials. The presentations focused on the impressive track records of cooperatives that had transformed the core cooperative values into cooperative practice. The conference on the enhanced scope and role of cooperatives in recovery from the economic crisis drafted the following set of recommendations: 1. Cooperatives should be geared to function in both conventional sectors, and innovative, non-conventional sectors such as SMEs, health, education, technical professions, environment, special community services and infrastructure, and local resource management with a medium- to long-term strategy truly in the spirit of cooperative identity that ensures democratic controls and promotes indivisible reserves. 2. It would be a big move forward to invoke the interests of governments, both micro and macro level measures should be based on a strong partnership with governments at all administrative levels, supplemented with greater visibility and hard edged information campaigns on cooperatives’ modesty and humble origins. 3. Government representatives must speak forcefully about cooperative advantages at UN Assemblies, and the ICA system should be used to coordinate international level lobbying and networking with ICA members, multilateral international organizations and the UN system. 4. Cooperatives, being community based, must be preferred and considered for spear-heading demonstrative and replicable awareness campaigns, both at local and global levels on issues of global concerns, such as MDGs (Millennium Development Goals) of the UN, global warming, HIV & AIDS, etc… in collaboration with other actors in this field. ◊

If you have any questions, suggestions or criticisms about “Work Together”, please write to us at cicopa@cicopa.coop Work together is a periodical joint publication of CI COPA and CECOP Europe edited in English, French and Spanish - © CICOPA 2009


Trabajar Juntos Número 2 - Agosto 2009  

Publicación electrónica conjunta de CICOPA y CECOP CICOPA-Europa

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