The situation is alarming: millions of European citizens find themselves without jobs, each day new jobs are threatened and an important number of European citizens find themselves at risk of poverty and social exclusion. On this International day of Cooperatives, it is important to underline that in Europe, worker cooperatives and social cooperatives show a better resistance to the crisis, notably on the subject of saving jobs and economic activities in Europe.
The research, that was presented on the 26th June at the European Economic and Social Committee, identifies the mechanisms which reinforce the resilience. There are many reasons to explain it. Firstly, the fact that worker-members, as co-owners of their businesses, share the responsibility and the management and put the strategies in place in the short and the long term; which give the priority to the safeguarding of their jobs and continuous innovation. Among these strategies we can name the temporary reduction of salaries, technological investment, adaptations for the market, use of financial reserves, etc.
In fact, it is noticed that the resilience of worker and social cooperatives to the crisis is more pronounced in the countries which operate a strong implementation of these types of cooperatives, where one finds instruments of inter co-operation, (the cooperative movement’s own financial instruments, support institutions for enterprises consortia and federations etc.) but also specific public policies. It is perceived equally that the legally favourable dispositions for cooperatives, which principally exist in Italy, in France and in Spain, allow these enterprises to develop themselves and as a consequence, to increase their resilience.
The report bases itself on an analysis of quantitative data, however principally in France and in Spain (the countries where the statistics on worker cooperatives and social cooperatives are the most reliable) and indicate that in these countries these enterprises have known a lower number of closures and of job losses than the average. This study equally presents a few concrete examples illustrating the strategies put in place by cooperatives to allow them to react more quickly and efficiently.
On the same point, the Secretary General of the United Nations declare in his message on the occasion of the International Day of Cooperatives that those enterprises are capable of responding "in a more adapted way to local needs and are better positioned to serve as engines of local growth (...) moreover, their underlying values of self-help, equality and solidarity offer a compass in challenging economic times".
The study “The resilience of the cooperative model”, can be downloaded here
Extracts from the film “Together” can be seen here