ROUND TABLE 3: Cooperatives and mutuals, a distinctive and effective business model – An alternative to the prevailing business model
Bruno Roelants has a Master's in labour studies (ISS, The Hague). He is Secretary General of CICOPA, the sectoral organization of the International Cooperative Alliance for Industrial, Artisan and Service Cooperatives and of its regional organization CECOP CICOPA-Europe. He was previously in charge of cooperative development projects in China, India and Central/Eastern Europe. He coordinated the work of representatives sent by national confederations of cooperatives during the 2001–2002 negotiations which led to the approval of ILO Recommendation 193 on the Promotion of Cooperatives in Geneva. He has lectured on cooperatives and local development in Italy. He is co-author of Capital and the Debt Trap – Learning from Cooperatives in the Global Crisis (Palgrave 2011) and of Cooperatives, Territories and Jobs (Cecop Publications 2011).
About the International Organisation of Industrial, Artisanal and Service Producers' Co-operatives
The International Organisation of Industrial, Artisanal and Service Producers' Co-operatives, or CICOPA, is a sectoral organisation of the International Co-operative Alliance. Its full members are national representative organizations of producers' cooperatives from different sectors: construction, industrial production, general services, transport, intellectual skills, artisanal activities, health, social care, etc.
Its associated members are support organizations promoting cooperatives in those sectors. Many of those cooperatives are worker cooperatives, namely cooperatives where the members are the staff of the enterprise, i.e., worker-members. Because of this, those enterprises are characterized by a distinctive type of labour relations, called “worker ownership”, different from the one experienced by conventional employees or by the self-employed. But new types of cooperatives are emerging in CICOPA's membership, such as social cooperatives and community cooperatives. With the recent transformation of the world economy, this cooperative sector is no longer a marginal phenomenon, as numbers have increased in both industrialized and developing countries over recent years.
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