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Spain: 23% more worker cooperatives created in 2013 and generating net employment

7 May 2014 [ English ] français ]

At the close of 2013 there was a 23% increase in the creation of worker cooperatives than at the same time the previous year. Up to 2013, there had been 10 points’ worth of fewer job losses in cooperatives than in other company types. Worker cooperatives are currently creating net employment, in a country where there are 5 million people unemployed.

In total there were 950 new cooperatives in 2013 as compared to 733 in 2012. The figures for 2013 exceed those obtained in 2006, i.e. during the peak of the economic boom, when 760 cooperatives were created. “Once again these figures prove that cooperatives preserve jobs”, said Antonio Pedreño, President of the Spanish Confederation of Worker Cooperatives (COCETA). It is a model that is essentially being used in two strands at present. Firstly, it is a model that young people are choosing. They represent almost 45% of new cooperative jobs. Secondly, it is a vital model for preserving companies and jobs by transforming or converting commercial companies into cooperatives.”

“This very type of cooperative allows for greater flexibility and increased involvement of the associated workers, as they are in charge of their own company. Moreover, worker cooperatives create quality employment, with associates making up 80% of the workforce and open-ended employment contracts for the most part”, Pedreño continued. Furthermore these are companies that promote gender equality. In them 49% are women who say that they have struck a good work/life balance, according to COCETA studies. Moreover, 38% of these women are in leadership positions, which is a far higher percentage than in other company types.

Pedreño believes that the reason why no more cooperatives have been created is because it is still only a model despite the efforts made by the cooperative movement, a model that is little-known compared to traditional companies. “There is also a lack of active policies that prioritise companies like worker cooperatives”, Pedreño added, “not only because they are producing better data in the midst of the crisis but because they place people above capital as well, and because they are rooted locally thus contributing to the communities in which they are embedded.”

Worker cooperatives are the most predominant type in the variety of cooperatives in Spain. Only 216 of all new cooperatives created in 2013 (1166 in total compared to 1005 in 2012) were not worker cooperatives.