The largest industrial cooperative group in the world, Mondragon Corporation, is starting a large-scale debate involving its 120 cooperative enterprises. Over the next two years there’ll be an internal debate as to how cooperatives can remain autonomous and self-managed at the same time as introducing tighter control of solidarity funding.
Speaking at Mondragon’s latest conference Javier Sotil, the corporation’s new president, made a stirring appeal to members to be confident and come together to achieve great things in this new era for the group. He called for a revival of cooperative principles and values, and talked about the importance of their commitment to competitive and sustainable projects. He also launched the ‘Mondragon of the future’ project – a document various bodies across the corporation have worked on over the last nine months – which he hopes will encourage cooperatives to participate on the project going forward.
Summing up, he stressed how the project should be shaped by the cooperatives themselves, who are responsible for their decisions and are the real bosses of their own futures. They share a common model and should support each other in a spirit of solidarity and inter-cooperation. In his speech, Javier Sotil reinforced his confidence in the cooperative movement, saying "cooperative values help us transform society, making it fairer, more equal, and guided by principles of solidarity”. He insisted on the need to continue doing “cooperative” and “competitive” business: maintaining cooperative values whilst remaining competitive on the world stage, supported by common values of inter-cooperation and solidarity.
The document also outlines some more significant changes. It refers to “transformative solidarity”: a way of placing more emphasis on grouping the corporations businesses by industry sector, so they can better anticipate any issues with competitiveness amongst cooperatives, as well as introducing tighter controls on the cooperative institutions that allocate funds. “It will be a more stringent form of solidarity that can truly transform the way we do things”, said Sotil. Funds are now making their way to businesses through Mondragon Investments and the Mondragon Foundation, with the money coming from the profits of the cooperatives themselves. Each one contributes 20% of earnings to solidarity, and Laboral Kutxa gives 30%.
A total of 650 representatives of the group’s cooperatives attended the Mondragon Corporation conference, the place where future directions to be taken by the group are discussed.
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