III Cooperative Summit of the Americas: a cooperative world for all

The III Cooperative Summit of the Americas took place from 4-7 November in Cartagena (Colombia), bringing together 1,575 cooperative members and representatives from 30 countries across the Americas and Europe. Eight CICOPA member organisations played an active role in highlighting how worker cooperatives can drive economic and social transformation across the continent and the world.

4 December 2014

CICOPA’s president, Manuel Mariscal, gave a speech at the Summit’s closing ceremony. In it, he called on the cooperative movement to help change the outlook of poverty, youth unemployment and financial globalisation from within, suggesting two ways: "by doing business through our own cooperatives and designing strategies as cooperatives as a whole, from a perspective of our shared values and principles. Because then it will be possible to change society". Mariscal’s entire speech is available here.

On 4 November there was a conference between worker cooperatives and trade unions. Philippe Vanhuynegem, representative of the Organización Internacional del Trabajo/OIT (International Labour Organization/ILO, in English) shared the ILO’s current vision in relation to cooperatives and their role in the strengthening of workers’ rights at a global level. To quote Vanhuynegem, cooperatives "play a fundamental role in the consolidation of a project for economic growth that strengthens workers’ rights". He also highlighted the importance of cooperatives in the development of democracy in society.

Arildo Mota, President of Unisol-Brasil gave a presentation centred around the articulation of the Brazilian trade union movement, especially the Central Única dos Trabalhadores/CUT (Central Union of Workers, in English), and the Social and Solidarity-based Economy. Juan Correa, Secretary General of FCPU-Uruguay discussed the opportunities for the new Mercosur region: its main challenges and possible solutions.

Fraudulent worker cooperatives are a serious problem in Colombia and this was a source of debate amongst cooperative representatives, Colombian trade unions, and Colombia’s Vice Minister of Labour. Manuel Mariscal and Bruno Roelants (President and General Secretary of CICOPA) recalled the pledge made by CICOPA 15 years ago to take a stance against the so-called "pseudo-cooperatives" (an expression used in the ILO recommendation 193 on the promotion of cooperatives to describe cooperatives formed in order to evade labour regulations and violate workers’ rights), and cooperative representatives from other countries explained how they had confronted the problem through social dialogue and regulation.

CICOPA-Americas offered to act as a facilitator between unions and worker cooperatives in Colombia. Mariscal also announced a proposal for 2015: to organise a meeting on worker cooperatives in Brazil, where the issue of pseudo-cooperatives has been tackled with the introducion of a law, and strong cooperation between the parties involved: the government, cooperatives, and trade unions.

That same day, a panel came together to discuss capitalisation, led by the President of CICOPA, and Jean Louis Bancel, President of the Asociación Internacional de Bancos Cooperativos (International Co-operative Banking Association, in English). Mariscal echoed the sentiments of the ILO, saying "the majority of the economic issues we face today can be resolved by cooperatives", and going on to conclude that "we must inform society of what we do: tell them about the improvements to growth, employment and development we’ve made. We can then urge our governments to support such developments, by introducing policies and giving access to public funds".

CICOPA-Americas Assembly

CICOPA member organisations had their II Ordinary Assembly as part of the Summit. Arildo Mota (President of Unisol-Brasil) was reelected to his post for a further four years, and at the same time automatically takes the post of Vice President of CICOPA. The Vice Presidency will respond to one of CICOPA’s North American organisations (CWCF-Canada, USFWC-US, and CNC-Mexico) and the Policy Office will be made up of member organisations from Colombia, headed by Carlos Acero (ASCOOP-Colombia), with Darío Castillo as deputy (CONFECOOP-Colombia). Javier Elguero (CNCT-Argentina) was elected Treasurer.

For the CICOPA Mercosur region, Juan Correa (Secretary General of FCPU-Uruguay) was elected President; Geraldo Magela (Secretary OCB-Brasil) Vice President; Myriam Baez (Pta. CONPACOOP-Paraguay) Policy Secretary; and Darío Farcy (FECOOTRA-Argentina) Treasurer. Next the balance sheet for the 2012-2014 period was approved, along with the Strategic Plan for 2015-2016 and a Declaration entitled the “Declaración Mundial sobre las Cooperativas de Trabajo por la ACI en Cartagena" (World Declaration on Worker Cooperatives, by the ICA in Cartagena, in English), available here (in Spanish).

As suggested by CICOPA, the Declaration revisits that established in 2005 by the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA): a set of minimum requirements member worker cooperatives across the world must meet. It also sets out the role of cooperatives at a regional and international level. Finally, it stresses the need to keep building on an anti-hegemonic model: one capable of reversing current trends of protest and social exclusion, and of furthering the advance towards sustainable development and "a cooperative world for all".

International Organisation of Industrial, Artisanal and
Service Producers' Cooperatives

Secretariat: C/O European Cooperative House - avenue Milcamps 105
1030 Brussels, Belgium
Tel: +32 2 543 1033, fax: +32 2 543 1037
E-mail: cicopa[at]

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