Italy: historic agreement between unions and coops to promote worker buyouts

26 January 2021

Italian cooperative federations Agci, Confcooperative and Legacoop have signed an agreement with Italy’s largest trade union organizations to promote cooperative worker buyouts.

On January 21st, Italian cooperative apex organisations Agci, Confcooperative, and Legacoop, signed a historical agreement with Italian trade union organizations Cgil, Cisl and Uil to promote the establishment and consolidation of cooperative worker buyouts.

A worker buyout (WBO) is a situation when an enterprise is acquired by its employees. Worker buyouts occur when an enterprise is facing bankruptcy, closure, or when an owner is retiring and has no successor. In those situations, employees are concerned about their jobs and provide the capital needed to take control of the enterprise. In a lot of cases, businesses are transformed into worker cooperatives after the WBO.
These solutions not only give the workers democratic control of their enterprise, but also involve them in the everyday life and management of the organization, bringing them together to meet their needs in a collective way.

Italy is one of the countries with the highest record of worker buyouts, and this new achieved pact puts cooperativism in the spotlight as the go-to way of managing a business after its transformation into a WBO.

The new agreement also foresees the creation of a new permanent national monitoring committee to follow current industrial crises that could lead to a WBO, in order to advise the concerned actors on the benefits of setting up a worker cooperative. Furthermore, they have also developed together an explanatory guide to support the initiatives. The social partners will then promote it in various sectors and regions.

CECOP President and CICOPA Vice President Giuseppe Guerini welcomed the agreement and said: “Congratulations to all parties involved in this agreement. We should not only be doing this at a national level, but we should encourage European Institutions and Trade Unions to do something similar at a European level”.

CICOPA congratulates its sectoral members from Italy, Agci, Legacoop Produzione e Servizi, Legacoop Sociali, Confcooperative Lavoro e Servizi, Confcooperative Federsolidarietà on this important agreement.

For more information on business transfers to employees under the cooperative form, please read this CECOP study.

Read members’ statements here (in Italian): Legacoop Produzione e ServiziAGCIConfcooperative.

This article was originally published by CICOPA’s regional organisation for Europe, CECOP on the 25/01/2021.