28 April 2023
CICOPA, together with its regions across the world, celebrates the first of May – International Workers Day.
On the 1st of May 2023, CICOPA, the International Organization of Industrial and Service Cooperatives, is proud to celebrate International Workers Day, also known as Labor Day. As an organization that believes in the power of worker-ownership and workers’ rights, CICOPA recognizes the struggles of workers, past and present, for better working conditions and fair treatment. This Labor Day, CICOPA pays tribute to the dedication, initiative, and hard work of all workers across the globe.
As an organization dedicated to promoting worker-ownership and democratic workplaces, CICOPA encourages workers everywhere to continue fighting for their rights and to consider the cooperative model as a viable alternative to capitalistic business structures. We call governments to provide a space for worker cooperatives’ representative organizations to join the negotiation tables on labor policies together with trade unions and employers’ organizations.
On this Labor Day, CICOPA reiterates its commitment to working towards a future where workers have greater control over their work lives, fair wages and working conditions, and a voice in the decisions that affect their livelihoods.
More than 100 years old, worker-cooperatives have proven their resilience and adaptability to adapt to evolving challenges workers are facing around the globe. But what does it mean to be a worker cooperative today and what challenges are they tackling in 2023?
Worker buyouts: from top-down control to worker-ownership
More than 40 years of workers buyouts still inspires workers to save and sustain their enterprises and jobs. Oftentimes they are courageous men and women, whose employment is on the line, and by taking it on their own hands, they create a new, stable, and democratic future for themselves. Worker buyouts have many days ahead of them since, unfortunately, short-term investors attitudes keep shutting many profitable companies down and the ageing of the owners is threatening the survival of small and medium enterprises. These are also opportunities for workers to engage in collective ownership and decision-making, apply democracy at work and have a say in the future of their enterprises.
Ceramiche Noi is a ceramic factory located in Umbria, Italy. Years ago, a partner of the company decided to relocate production to Armenia and close the factory in Italy. It was then that the workers decided to buy out the company, in the form of a cooperative. Ceramiche Noi nowadays is regarded as a cooperative with a specialized know-how on high quality patterned ceramics, as well as for being a cooperative committed to its community.
SCOP TI is a tea factory in Gémenos, France. The cooperative is the result of a worker buyout after more than three years of the workers fighting daily to keep their jobs. The cooperative now has 38 worker-members and buys its aromatic plants locally to limit CO2 emissions.
Cooperar 7 de mayo
Cooperar 7 de mayo is an Argentinian enterprise that was converted into a worker cooperative 27 years ago. The cooperative focuses on loading and unloading operations at a port in the province of Santa Fe. It got its name 7 de Mayo (7 of May) from the day it was established as a cooperative in 1996. 7 de mayo believes in collective power, and it was founded under the principles of cooperation and solidarity. It has also been a notable example in the region, as when other companies went through struggles, they looked up to them to become a worker cooperative.
Listen to this exclusive interview for the 1 of May 2023, in collaboration with CICOPA Americas, featuring CICOPA Americas President, Cristian Horton (in Spanish).
Sustainability: a greener and safer future, for workers and the planet
Industrial and service cooperatives have the potential to be a driving force for positive change. As the world faces the challenges of climate change and environmental degradation, the industrial sector has a responsibility to reduce its negative impact and to provide innovative solutions to preserve the planet. Worker cooperatives invested in green and sustainable practices are well-positioned to lead the way in promoting environmentally friendly materials, while also prioritizing the health and safety of workers.
Logik & Co
Logik & Co is a Danish worker cooperative founded in 2001, out of frustration with the traditional construction industry and the aspiration of some workers to do things differently. The cooperative champions as leaders of green sustainable buildings, that are challenging the norm in Denmark. In addition, they want to replace the use of chemicals, limit the waste of materials, and reduce the emission of C02, and this starts with building with good natural materials, locally sourced and green.
Creando Conciencia is a worker cooperative located in Argentina. The coop was founded in 2001 and came from citizens concerned for waste pickers. Afterwards, the cooperative was established, and it was able not only able to provide organized work, but also dignified lives to waste pickers. The worker coop focuses on collection, selection, and classification of waste, as well as recycling dry waste.
Listen to this exclusive interview for the 1 of May 2023, in collaboration with CICOPA Americas, with Ramiro Martinez, President of the coop Creando Conciencia (in Spanish).
Earthworker Construction Co-operative
The Earthworker Construction Co-operative (ECC) is a worker cooperative located in Victoria, Australia. The cooperative aims to bridge the gap between protecting the environment and saving workers’ jobs. ECC is being formed in Melbourne looks to establish itself in the Latrobe Valley, while generating demand for green building products, and cultivating alternative employment for workers leaving the coal industry. Part of the ECC’s mission is to also build up a support network for coal workers as they transition to other industries.
Aguriin is a biodiesel fuel worker cooperative in Japan. It employs young people with mental disabilities or difficulties to be socially involved and has 6 worker-members. The plants collect between 400 – 1000 liters per day of oil to be processed and turned into fuel. It is subsequently used in the locality by bus companies and other enterprises.
Worker-owned platforms: reclaiming democracy at work, digitally
Digital labor platforms have been rapidly growing influence on workers’ rights and the labor market worldwide. Essentially, they reshape the future of work for everyone. Digital labor platforms established under the cooperative form, applying higher work and social standards, have also started to emerge over the years in reaction to the poor treatment toward platform workers and/or to provide sustainable solutions to emerging needs in associating the community.
La Pájara ciclomensajería
La Pájara is a platform cooperative in Madrid, Spain. This workers-owned platform cooperative is focused on delivery services relying on ethical practices and committed to reducing their carbon footprint by delivering exclusively by bicycle. Furthermore, they aim to have a high-quality customer service while still promoting responsible consumption.
MyCoolClass is a platform cooperative based in the UK but operates globally. It is a learning platform that offers a variety of topics and welcomes teachers from all around the world. In this cooperative, teachers are the worker-owners, who have found in MyCoolClass empowerment in its transparency and quality. The classes are spaces where students can learn in a fun, open, and culturally diverse space.
The Drivers Cooperative
The Drivers Cooperative is a platform cooperative in New York City, United States. The workers-owned cooperative surged from the need to put a stop to exploitative conditions in the driver’s industry, and to put the drivers in the (literally) driver’s seat. The cooperative aimed for better pay, and in the long term a just and green transition.
“Today, as we commemorate the struggles and victories of workers past and present, we must also look towards the future. Worker cooperatives offer a viable and sustainable model for a better society. By promoting worker ownership, participation, and solidarity, cooperatives empower workers and build strong and resilient communities. Let us work together towards a future where workers have greater control over their lives and the decisions that affect them, and where businesses prioritize people and the planet over profit.” – Iñigo Albizuri, President of CICOPA.