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[ The following are excerpts from the “World Declaration on Cooperative Worker Ownership” agreed upon by the International Organization of Industrial, Artisan and Service Producers' Cooperatives (CICOPA). Contact CICOPA for the full text*.]

Among the modalities of worker ownership, the one being organized through worker cooperatives has attained the highest level of development and importance at present in the world, and is structured on the basis of the universal cooperative principles, values and operational methods enshrined in the Statement on the Cooperative Identity (Manchester, 1995), agreed upon within the framework of the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA), and incorporated in the ILO Recommendation 193/2002 on the Promotion of Cooperatives.

Worker cooperatives are committed to being governed by the above-mentioned Statement on the Cooperative Identity. Moreover, it has become necessary to define at world level some basic characters and internal operational rules that are exclusive to this type of cooperatives, which have specific goals and purposes that differ from cooperatives belonging to other categories. This definition will enhance the coherence and universal identity of cooperative worker ownership, stimulate its development, and produce recognition at world level of its social and economic function in creating decent and sustainable jobs, while also preventing deviations or abuses.

A world declaration is also needed in order to focus on the importance of cooperative worker ownership, the promotion of worker cooperatives, and their relations with cooperatives belonging to other categories, as well as with the State, international organizations, the entrepreneurial world and the trade unions. This is necessary to guarantee the development and promotion of worker cooperatives, as well as the full recognition of their role as actors in the solution of the problems of unemployment and social exclusion, and as proponents of one of the most advanced, fair and dignifying modalities of labor relations, generation and distribution of wealth, and democratization of ownership and of the economy. [From the preamble: “ General Considerations. ” ]

On the basis of the above-mentioned considerations, CICOPA unanimously approves the following World Declaration on Cooperative Worker Ownership.

Worker cooperatives have the objective of creating and maintaining sustainable jobs and generating wealth, in order to improve the quality of life of the worker-members, dignify human work, allow workers democratic self-management and promote community and local development. As a general rule, work shall be carried out by the members. This implies that the majority of the workers in a given worker cooperative enterprise are members and vice versa. É Their internal regulation is formally defined by regimes that are democratically agreed upon and accepted by the worker-members. [From Section 1. “ Basic Characteristics. ” ]


In their internal operations, worker cooperatives must take into account the following rules. They shall:

1. Compensate the work of their members equitably, taking in consideration the function, the responsibility, the complexity and the specificity requested by their positions, their productivity and the economic capacity of the enterprise, trying to reduce the difference between the highest and the lowest compensations.

2. Contribute to the capital increase and the appropriate growth of indivisible reserves and funds.

3. Provide the workplaces with physical and technical facilities aimed at achieving an appropriate functioning and a good organisational climate.

4. Protect the worker-members with appropriate systems of welfare, social security and occupational health, and abide by the standards of protection in force in the areas of maternity, childcare and minors of age at work.

5. Practice democracy in the decisive instances of the organisation and in all the stages of the management process.

6. Ensure permanent education and training for capacity building of members and information to the latter, in order to guarantee professional knowledge and the development of the worker cooperative model, and to stimulate innovation and good management.

7. Contribute to the improvement of the living conditions of the family nucleus and the sustainable development of the community.

8. Combat their being instruments aimed at making the labour conditions of wage-earning workers more flexible or precarious, and from acting as conventional intermediaries for jobs.

*CICOPA, Rue Guillaume Tell 59, B Ø Brussels, Belgium ?? + 32 2 543 1033

Fax + 32 2 543 1037 - - E-mail: cecop@cecop.coop and broelants@compuserve.com.

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