The International organisation of industrial and service cooperatives, or CICOPA, has been a sector organisation of the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) since 1947. Its full members are representative organisations of cooperatives from different sectors: graphic design, construction, social services, renewable energy production, industrial production, education, transport, health, intellectual services, artisanal activities, etc. Its associated members are support organisations promoting cooperatives in those sectors.
Many of those cooperatives are worker cooperatives, namely cooperatives where the members are the staff of the enterprise, i.e., worker-members, being the owners of the company. Because of this, those enterprises are characterized by a distinctive type of labour relations, called “worker ownership”, different from the one experienced by conventional employees or by the self-employed. CICOPA also represents social cooperatives which are specialised in the provision of services of general interest or in the reintegration, through work, of disadvantaged or marginalised workers and cooperatives of self-employed producers established in order to cooperativize common inputs or services.
With the recent transformation of the world economy, industrial and service cooperatives are no longer a marginal phenomenon. Numbers have increased in both industrialised and developing countries over recent years. CICOPA currently has a total of 49 members in 32 countries which in turn affiliate 65,000 enterprises employing 4 million persons. However, there is evidence that this world phenomenon is quantitatively much wider: worker cooperatives, social cooperatives and cooperatives of self-employed producers in industry and services together employ over 16 million people worldwide: 10.8 million worker-members in worker and social cooperatives, and 5.8 million self-employed producer-members active in industry and services and organized in producers’ cooperatives.
CICOPA has two regional organisations: CECOP- CICOPA Europe and CICOPA Americas.
- CECOP – CICOPA Europe is the regional organisation of CICOPA in Europe. It affiliates 27 members in 15 European countries including organizations promoting cooperatives and national confederations or federations of cooperatives representing 50,000 enterprises employing 1.3 million workers. CECOP is a secto member of Cooperatives Europe, the regional organisation of the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) for Europe.
- CICOPA Americas includes 13 organisations present in 10 countries of the American continent. It is a sector organisation of ICA – Americas, the regional organisation of the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) for the Americas. CICOPA Americas includes two sub-regional organisations: CICOPA North America (grouping cooperative organisations from the USA, Canada and Mexico) and CICOPA Mercosur (grouping cooperative organisations from Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay).