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Workers buyouts and self-management: strengths and weakness of a social mouvement
December 23, 2016
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EuroWorkers' Economy 2016

The first international meeting “Worker’s economy” was held in 2007 in Argentina and brought together workers from workers’ takeover enterprises, political and social activists, trade unionists and academics.

Since then, the meetings are held every two years and are spaces for coming together, discussing and reflecting on the challenges faced by workers in their efforts to defend their livelihood through self-management, against the assaults of globalized capitalism.

The second Euro-Mediterranean meeting held in Thessaloniki, Greece, from Friday 28th to Sunday 30th October, 2016 gathered over 200 participants from many countries in Europe, Latin America, Turkey and even Syria, thanks to an online testimony of the struggle of the Kurdish community of the Syrian Rojava.

See the programme here.

The meeting focused on the struggles of workers to recover their enterprises, an act of resistance to capitalism that eliminates production units that are no longer profitable, i.e. do not yield satisfactory profits for expected investment returns.

The takeover is therefore firstly the way to preserve jobs, as well in the long term an instrument of social transformation and the creation of a new economy liberated from exploitation and turned to the satisfaction of social needs. It is a question of changing paradigms and replacing a predatory economy, based on the exploitation of workers by a basic needs and social justice oriented economy .

Many testimonies focused on the struggles and forms of organization adopted to reconvert businesses into self-managed cooperatives. The meeting took place in the VIOME plant that has been struggling since 2011, following the abandonment of the factory by employers, leaving workers without wages in a crisis context where unemployment reaches 30% of the population.  VIOME is still threatened with expulsion, the state having put the factory at auction. The resistance of workers is emblematic, supported by people of the region and far beyond. Moreover, it was the mobilisation of those sympathizers that allowed the meeting to be held in good conditions.

Testimonies were also members of Fralib (Marseille region, France), which after 1336 days of fighting the multinational Unilever (for the brand Elephant Teas) succeeded in creating the ScopTI cooperative, and to sell organic teas and infuses (the 1336 brand is now found in in bio-coops and other outlets of the solidarity economy).  Also factory worgers from Rima flow (the suburb of Milan) brought their experiences, as well as Kazova in Turkey or Campichuelo graphics and design cooperative in Argentina, Dita in Bosnia and Herzegovina and many others …

Besides these testimonies, participants were able to examine the values at stake. Thus, an Italian doctoral student expressed her findings under the prism of gender in the self-managed enterprises (where one sees no surprise that women also struggle to take their place in spite of the declarations of equality) and the control of emotions in groups not regulated by authority.  A group of refugee women who organize themselves to produce knittings and securing supplies in the camp where they are kept, testified to the harassing complications that the government introduced to limit their autonomy.

Self-Management was central of course, but also the processes of takeover of the common assets: re-municipalization of cleaning services in Madrid, rescue of beaches in Greece with the example of the Voula camping that was rendered to the inhabitants while the beach was threatened with privatization (everything is sold out in Greece).

Josette Combs, representing MES in Ripess Europe, intervened in the round table on “legal, social and political assistance structures that could help in the takeover of self-managed factories. What role can trade unions, international networks, legal consultants and solidarity movements play in the connection of struggles for self-management with their social and political context“, dedicated to the role of networks in support of takeover initiatives, where the debate also focused on the involvement of local communities with citizens in a spirit of support for the local economy.

The recurring discourse engages in the struggle needed to advance the self-managerial economy, continuously threatened by attacks from the imposed authorities or by the internal risk of departing from the initial spirit of horizontal and joint governance, still under the battering of the market which tries to helm the road to these atypical undertakings, which challenge the capitalist model of accumulation and exploitation of both producers and consumers.

Lots of energy and lots of fragility intermingled and a genuine warm brotherhood during these three days of exchanges that included local music and sales stands for the products of the cooperatives.

Josette Combes, MES

Be part of CSA!
December 16, 2016
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Be part of a CSA booklet

The “Be part of CSA!” project – a European Participatory Training Programme for Community Supported Agriculture – has been designed to spread widely CSA initiatives by providing knowledge, skills and competences to local communities in Hungary, Czech Republic and Romania, and disseminates its outcomes at the European level.  The Booklet is here to introduce the fundamentals; the Trainers’ Guide is intended as supplementing material for trainers, multipliers and facilitators to organise the agenda of each training session, providing them with educational materials and training techniques not always directly connected to CSA, but that partners thought relevant to the project.

More info and download the guide (in English) here.

Alternatives économiques: The Economy Otherwise Days
December 9, 2016
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The French magazine Alternatives economic organized on 25th and 26th November in Dijon a symposium entitled “The Days of the Economy Otherwise”, in partnership with many SSE actors (see the list of partners here). About 2,000 people, coming from all over the country and even abroad, spent a total of two days in the various places where plenaries, roundtables and workshops were held.

Read more

7th ILO SSE Academy: presentations, materials, photos and videos

21The 7th ILO Social and Solidarity Economy Academy took place in San José, Costa Rica, from the 21st to the 25th of November 2016. You can access its presentations, materials, photos and videos through the following channels:

Read more

EFSSE 2016: a first step forward for the SSE in Europe
March 30, 2016
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On January 28, 2016, the first European Forum of Social Solidarity Economy (EFSSE) took place in the Parliament in Brussels, promoted by parliamentarians of the European United Left and the Nordic Green Left (GUE / NGL), with the participation of more than 200 representatives and activists of networks and organizations of the SSE (including approximately thirty delegates members of the RIPESS Europe).

RIPESS was invited to the opening session alongside parliamentarians and representatives of European networks (Social Economy EuropeCooperatives Europe). During the round table that followed, Jean-Louis Laville recalled the history of the evolution of the social and solidarity economy, and in particular social, cultural and political paradigm changes that have transformed the approach to and even the notion of economy.

Riccardo Petrella unambiguously urged parliamentarians to “overthrow the table”, that is to engage in a radical change of methods and conception of the management of public affairs. Judith Hichmann and Yvon Poirier drew a picture of the international opportunities including in the overall vision of a post-2015 development agenda.

Read more

Thanks Arielle!
November 17, 2015
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Arielle NdimbiarivolaArielle Ndimbiarivola completed an internship at the RIPESS EU during her Masters studies, under the direction of Eric Dacheux, professor at the Clermont Ferrand II university, in the context of the UFR Applied trade, languages and communication. During his internship, Arielle was has been crucial helping for the organization of the Ripess Europe General Assembly within Solikon 2015 in Berlin.  She also participated in the implementation of the Newsletter and ensured with pugnacity the facilitation of the members’ requests. On 17 October, she presented her thesis entitled “Intercultural cooperation through communication” where she examined the challenges and difficulties but also the wealth related to the diversity of the members of a European network dedicated to solidarity economy. We will publish this document as soon as she makes it available. We learned that she has since found employment immediately in the field of her speciality. Thanks to the quality of her presence in the past few months on our side, we wish well for her professional and personal development.

RIPESS Europe Program
July 27, 2015
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Zagreb, The second conference on Good Economy

The Second Conference on Good Economy was organised in Zagreb by ZMAG, the Green Network of Activist Groups & Cooperatives for Good Economy from 19th – 21st March 2015.

It brought together a slightly eclectic but highly successful mixture of speakers, whose differences actually sparked a very creative mix, under the guidance of the quietly insightful and humorous Drazen Simlesa, the key figure behind this interesting initiative.

The three main themes were all anchored in their own meaningful way in solidarity economy: alternative finance, participatory budgeting and food sovereignty, and the keynote speakers all complementary, with each in his or own way showing the path forward.

Carlos de Freitas, gave a passionate talk about the potentials for alternative banking and power of local currencies, based on clear illustrations from the Banca Palmas. There were also interventions on ethical banking in various parts of Europe, including Goran  Matic from Croatia. Carlos intervened on both the first and the third day, providing a ray of hope a on how another finance is possible.

Giovanni Alleretti, the global expert on participatory budgeting clearly explained how communities can become empowered through the use of participatory democracy. This includes the key aspect of youth participatory budgeting, that trains young people in civic-mindedness. This talk was complemented by the concrete illustrations from the town of Cascais, just outside Lisbon, given by Isabel Xavier Canning.

On the second day, John Restakis, who is deeply involved in advising on restructuring the Greek economy, after spending over 20 years in Canada, gave a mesmerising talk on the way forward for economies and the State: a combination of a suitably sustainable framework, and civil society empowered cooperatives and social enterprises. And while we had some small disagreements and deep exchange over dinners, there is no way to fault the overall picture he presents!

Judith Hitchman then presented the ways in which solidarity economy does effectively present the lever for paradigm change, using various illustrations, and especially the case study of food sovereignty and Community Supported Agriculture as an illustration (Urgenci has Croatian members). This was further extended in presenting the Good Food local initiatives the following day.

The conference was well attended, well prepared and a rich experience. We look forward to welcoming the members of the newly formed Croatian collective that brings together over a dozen different groups and projects in Croatia into the RIPESS Europe network!

For more information see the official website (in Croatian!)

Clôture officielle de l’Année internationale des Coopératives par l’ONU

La clôture officielle de l’Année internationale des coopératives, s’est tenue au siège de l’Organisation des Nations Unies à New York les 19 et 20 novembre 2012 Read more

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