More than 1,000 participants came together to debate the role of worker co-ops for Global Worker Co-operative Day in Marseille on 16 November.
The conference featured key speakers from Argentina, US, India, Italy, Spain, France, Brazil and Canada, who shared their experiences.
The president of CICOPA, Manuel Mariscal, opened the international conference and said worker co-operatives are “a solid answer to the concrete problems of the society, it is a model that brings hope in the current situation”.
On the first day of the conference, co-operators heard about various issues that French co-operatives are facing. Participants also got an insight into global co-operative trends, with experts sharing their views. The debate aimed to stimulate ideas on how co-operatives can respond to globalisation.
“It is very important to share a co-operative vision and the principle of solidarity between co-operatives”, reported the director of the MONDRAGON Corporation, Arantza Laskurain.
The Friday afternoon sessions will focus on developing the transfer of business into worker co-operative enterprises, having key speakers from Quebec, Brazil, Italy and France.
Paul Singer, Brazilian Secretary of State for Solidarity Economy and Benoît Hamon, French Deputy Minister of Social and Solidarity Economy, led a discussion on French-Brazilian exchange on public policies in favour of worker co-operatives.
Representatives from Italy and Quebec discussed the public measures put in place by countries to develop transformation of enterprises in crisis, or in good health, into co-operatives. Pierre Laliberté, from the Bureau for Worker’s Activities, at the International Labour Organization (ILO) insisted worker co-ops and trade unions work together.
Paul Singer, Secretary of State for Solidarity Economy under the Ministry of Labour and Employment of Brazil and Benoît Hamon, the French Deputy Minister for Social and Solidarity Economy were the last speakers at the event.
Mr Singer shared the main findings of the new law approved in Brazil that can be a way forward to other countries with the participants and thanked CICOPA publicly for its support and advice in the legislative process.
Minister Hamon underlined the French government’s concern for worker co-operatives “because they are competitive in the market and they win! It is a long-lasting model, tempering, wise, universal, a model that doesn’t relocate, a quality one, innovative, and a model that associates ownership with entrepreneurial decisions.”
He also he announced his intention to establish a preferential right for the buyout of enterprises by its workers and the foreseen inclusion of the co-operative groups in the law on Social and Solidarity Economy to be approved in 2013.