New Cooperative Law in Murcia Introduces Changes for Worker Cooperatives

The regional government of Murcia is about to approve a new Cooperatives Law which would eliminate the minimum capital requirement for creating cooperatives, allow for investor members and facilitate fusions and operations with third parties. The Economic and Social Council (CES) observes that the bill could double temporary work in those businesses that make up the social economy.

15 August 2005

The new law would facilitate the creation of cooperatives, the growth of existing ones and the union between cooperatives. The bill’s principal changes include the elimination of the minimum capital requirement for constituting a cooperative and for the creation of associates, a type of member that would supply financing without being required to participate in the cooperative’s activities, and which would receive remuneration for the capital invested.

Murcia was the last autonomous community in Spain lacking its own Cooperatives Law, a situation that will be corrected by the passing of this bill.

However, the Economic and Social Council (CES) has expressed its objections to the text presented, calling attention to the “doubling of temporary work that could be generated in the cooperatives, since the percentage of temporary members permitted would increase from 20% to 40%.

This change allows the cooperatives to adapt more easily to temporary or seasonal situations, but the CES believes that it may also lead to greater labor precariousness in the cooperative sector.

The bill also facilitates the creation of second-level cooperatives, since it states that these may by created by a first-level cooperative and a public body, and not only by cooperatives themselves, as is the case in the existing legal framework.

According to “La Verdad Digital”, the President of the Union of Worker Cooperatives of the Murcia Region (Ucomur), Juan Antonio Pedreño, believes that this bill “would permit not only an increase in the number of cooperatives, but also the consolidation of existing cooperatives.”

Among the bill’s innovations, Pedreño points out the elimination of limits for third-party operations and the improvement in the fiscality resulting from a clarification of cooperative and non-cooperative profits, “confusion which up until now had generated numerous inspections of businesses by the Finance Ministry. He also emphasized the importance for the sector of the fact that half of the obligatory reserve fund that the organization accumulates over the years will be available to the members in the event of their retirement or justified withdrawal.

Until now, the reserve fund could not be distributed. Pedreño explained that among existing cooperative-related legislation in Spain, this change is exclusive only to Murcia. He believes, “the fact that upon retirement they may receive part of the funds they helped generate with their work over the years will encourage many more people to become cooperative members.”

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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