Spanish worker co-ops continue to grow despite pandemic challenges

Figures from national sector body Coceta show that 3,548 new jobs were created in worker co-operatives in 2021

Spain saw the launch of 1,287 new worker co-ops in 2021, an increase of 11.4% on 2020, as the sector continues to grow.

According to Coceta, the Spanish confederation of worker co-operatives, 3,548 new jobs were created by the sector in 2021. The country is home to 17,339 worker co-ops (with 23,584 co-operatives of all models) which employ 313,469 worker members.

Most worker co-ops can be found in Catalonia; 19.17& of its 4,521 co-operatives are worker co-ops. Next in the ranking is Andalusia; 18.28% of its 4,311 co-ops are worker co-ops, followed by the Basque Country; 11.91% of its 2,810 co-ops are worker co-ops.

Newly set up co-operatives generated 5,562 jobs, 64% of these in worker co-operatives (3,548).

“The data confirms the stability of worker co-operatives and their lesser dependence on market fluctuations, a consequence, among other issues, of their greater flexibility,” said Coceta president Luis Miguel Jurado.

“Obviously, the worst moments of the pandemic, experienced in 2020, affected our enterprises, although in 2021, which was not a good year either in macro or microeconomic terms, our sector, that of worker co-operatives, grew by 11%.”

He added: “We do not want growth for growth’s sake – we want stability and profitability sufficient to contribute to local, regional and state economies from the impact on the quality of life of co-operative members. In short, worker co-operatives are partners in the life projects of the working members.

“There is a balanced symbiosis between the service provided to the joint enterprise and the service provided by the enterprise to people, something that does not occur in the majority market economy. That is why worker co-operatives are a social economy.”