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Over one thousand participants took part at the main international event for worker cooperatives and social cooperatives this year, within the framework of the International Year of Cooperatives proclaimed by the United Nations, celebrated on 16th November in Marseille. Representatives from the cooperative movement, public authorities and a larger audience from all over world participated actively in the Global Worker Cooperative Day, organized jointly by CICOPA and CG Scop, the French Confederation of Worker Cooperatives.
It was a full day of exchanges, debates and analyses of the models and practices of worker cooperation across the world, with special attention to the today’s crises and challenges. Key speakers from Argentina, United States, India, Italy, Spain, France, Brazil and Canada shared their experiences and offered tested solutions in enterprise transfer and transformation, networking and clustering. The president of CICOPA, Manuel Mariscal, opened the international conference underlining the importance of intercooperation and insisting in the fact that worker cooperatives are « a solid answer to the concrete problems of the society, it is a model that brings hope in the current situation».
The round table “Re-grouping into cooperatives, a response to globalization” brought together experiences such as the one of the MONDRAGON Corporation in Spain, the group of social cooperatives CGM in Italy and the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) in India. According to the speakers, information, training and active responsibility are at the root of the success of cooperative groups. “It is very important to share a cooperative vision and the principle of solidarity between cooperatives”, reported the director of the MONDRAGON Corporation, Arantza Laskurain.
The discussion was followed by an overview of the transfer of businesses into worker cooperatives with examples from two concrete cooperative enterprises: Ceralep in France and Uniforja in Brazil. Representatives from Italy and Quebec explained the public measures put in place in those regions and countries to develop the transformation of enterprises in crisis, or in good health, into cooperatives. Pierre Laliberté, from the Bureau for Worker’s Activities, at the International Labour Organization (ILO) insisted on the importance of the common work between worker cooperatives and trade unions.
The journey was closed by the enthusiastic words of governmental representatives such as Paul Singer, Secretary of State for Solidarity Economy under the Ministry of Labor and Employment of Brazil and Benoît Hamon, the French Deputy Minister for Social and Solidarity Economy that underlined the important role of cooperatives to find a way out of the crisis. Singer shared the main findings of the new law approved in Brazil that can be a way forward to other countries with the participants and thanked CICOPA publicly for its support and advice in the legislative process.
Hamon put into words the French government’s concern for worker cooperatives “because they are competitive in the market and they win! It is a long-lasting model, tempering, wise, universal, a model that doesn’t relocate, a quality one, innovative, and a model that associates ownership with entrepreneurial decisions”. The minister presented seven measures to achieve a “cooperative shock. Among other points, he announced his intention to establish a preferential right for the buyout of enterprises by its workers and the foreseen inclusion of the cooperative groups in the law on Social and Solidarity Economy to be approved in 2013.
Photo: Paul Singer, National Secretary of Solidarity Economy for the Ministry of Labor and Employment of Brazil at the conference
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