The following CECOP members were represented: VDP (Germany), CGSCOP (France), Confcooperative and LEGACOOP (Italy), COCETA (Spain), NAUWC (Poland), SZVD (Czech Republic), SAW-B (Belgium), FKU (Sweden), COOPERATIVES UK (United Kingdom), CO-LABOR (Luxemburg), NUWPC (Bulgaria), COOPFINLAND (Finland), ZKS (Slovenia), as well as the Malta cooperative organisation APEX: in total, the representative organisations of our sector in 14 European countries were represented.

The “Projectives” study

The preliminary study was conducted by the “Projectives” network in seven European countries: Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Poland, Czech Republic and Sweden. The researchers of “Projectives” met CECOP member organisations, as well as trade union organisations. The study was aimed at identifying the problems specific to worker cooperatives in the scope of the application of the directive on workers participation in the European cooperative society. It presented the situation on the cooperative movement in general, the relations between national trade unions and the cooperative movement and the implementation of the transposition of the Directive SCE. CECOP and its member organisations brought some corrections to the data provided in the first version of the “Projectives” report.

The corrected version was presented at the conference, where different cooperative and trade union organisations gave their opinions on the conclusions of the study (eg on the affirmation which says that the workers participation in worker cooperatives tended to slow down with an augmentation of the length of the company). In order to get prepared for the conference, CECOP sent a questionnaire to its members in 2 parts: 1. On the relationships between worker cooperative organisations and trade unions on the SCE Directive. It appeared from the answers that an agreement has only been concluded in France, whereas in Italy, the negotiations keep going on. 2. On the situation of worker cooperatives on their relations with trade unions.

It appeared that every country which answered gives the same statute of wage-earner to the worker-member and to the non-member-worker except for Spain, where the worker-member can also be assimilated to a wage-earner but more frequently, to an independent worker. In the other hand, we could realise that in these countries, there will be structures of workers' representation (member or not) required by the directive SCE. On 14 June, a preparatory meeting to the conference was held in Brussels, under the Presidency of Jan Olsson, where 20 representatives of CECOP member organisations gathered.

This meeting aimed at answering or completing the questionnaire and at drafting a common position for the conference. On 15 and 16 June, at least 50 participants representing national trade unions, cooperative organisations from ETUC, CECOP and from DG EMPLOYMENT and DG ENTREPRISES of the European Commission debated on the following themes:

On 15 June in the morning: after presenting the general situation on the transposition of the European directive and social dialogue in cooperatives by Jan Olsson, vice-president of CECOP, and after the presentation of the preliminary study by experts and complementary analysis by the researchers of the Projectives network, Ms Pichot, a representative of DG Enterprises explained the issues of the European directive.

Javier Salaberria, president of CICOPA presented the situation of worker cooperatives at the world level, and their common characteristics. In the afternoon: report on the general situation of the cooperative societies, in Europe, by the representatives of the worker cooperatives organisations and the trade union organisations of the different represented countries; worker cooperatives: place and key issues of the social dialogue by Ms Mulfinger, Head of Division of crafts, small business, cooperatives and mutuals at DG EMPLOYMENT of the European Commission; the role of employee representation bodies inside cooperative societies: presentations by ETUC (Marco Cilento) and by CECOP (Bruno Roelants). On 16 June 2006, concrete cases of cooperatives were presented by country.

Afterwards, a project of common declaration addressed to ETUC and CECOP was proposed on the following points: a common monitoring of the democratic workers' participation in worker cooperatives, the identification and the promotion of good practices of supervision and implementation in these ones, a draft common ETUC/CECOP position on the additional standards on worker participation for SCE composed of worker cooperatives, the promotion of the cooperative practice in the educational programmes, the common support on public policies in favour of sustainable jobs (combat against delocalization, transformation into cooperatives of enterprises threatened by closure, social inclusion of disadvantaged workers, etc).

Afterwards, 2 workshops were organised (one for the cooperative representatives, one for the trade union ones) on the declaration project. During the synthesis of the workshops, the declaration was amended and approved (click here in order to read the declaration - English version only). Finally, Michel Porta from CGSCOP presented the collective agreement project implemented between the 5 French trade union organisations and which aims at defining a conventional plan governing the negotiations of the modalities for the involvement of workers for SCE's which statutory headquarter will be in France and which principal entity, one of the constituent parts or one subsidiary is regulated by the French worker cooperatives law.

He has also presented the ongoing research project between CECOP, CGSCOP, LEGACOOP, COCETA, CONFESAL, and DIESIS on SCE. The last part of the conference was dedicated to the search of common working paths between CECOP and ETUC on the basis of the declaration which will now be submitted to the approval of the decision-making bodies of the 2 organisations.