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Government needs to change attitude to cooperatives

4 September, 2012 - by David Cullinane TD

The Government needs to ensure that there is support in place for those who wish to start up cooperatives, according to Sinn Fein Senator David Cullinane.

Senator Cullinane was speaking during the course of a meeting of the Oireachtas Committee on Jobs Enterprise and Employment today, which was discussing a report by the Workers’ Cooperatives Network.

He said:

“Workers’ cooperatives are a model with very significant advantages to both its workers, and to the wider community. Workers have a stake in their employment, and there is benefit to the local economy in terms of services. However, there is very little support or expertise from state agencies for those who are interested in setting up cooperatives.

“This is a model which could have been used to save jobs in struggling companies, as was discussed when Waterford Crystal collapsed, however, as we saw then, there are no particular initiatives in place or assistance available to workers to make this happen.

“There is immense potential in this area, in particular in my own constituency as regards the horticulture and craft sectors, but also across all sectors of industry, as the positive experience of the Mondragon Project in the Basque Country has illustrated.

“However, unless the Government takes steps to encourage workers’ cooperatives, their potential will not be realised. I call on the Government to implement the recommendations of the ILO Resolution 193 on the promotion of cooperatives, and to put in place proper recognition of workers cooperatives in legislation.”

Senator Cullinane also highlighted the potential of cooperatives in developing the All-Ireland economy.

“They is an area which is ripe for all Ireland cooperation, and for developing the all-Ireland economy, and given the community orientated nature of cooperatives, it is perfect for cross-border cooperation.

“I endorse the views of the Workers Cooperatives Network, that there is a need for deeper integration, including an all-party committee on the issue of cooperatives, which could work in close cooperation with its equivalent body in the north, and examining the possibility of a cooperative equivalent of InterTrade Ireland.”


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