First Transatlantic Agreement For Worker Cooperatives

November 23, 2015

The Canadian Worker Co-op Federation (CWCF) and the General Confederation of Cooperatives and participatory societies (CGSCOP) of France have signed an economic agreement between France and Canada, regarding shared knowledge and expertise in the worker cooperative movement.

The agreement, made by the two apex organizations representing worker cooperatives in Canada and in France, principally aims to increase the organisations’ expertise in accompanying business organizations for business succession to worker cooperatives.

“Employees, in many cases, are able to collectively buy the company that employs them, particularly in the event that an employer could not identify an external buyer. With support, employees can become coowners, co-investors and co-managers,” says Alain Bridault, President of CWCF.

France has a good head start on Quebec and the rest of Canada in this matter. Indeed, CGSCOP coordinates annually up to 50 business ownership transfers to employees as a “cooperative and participatory society” (“SCOP”), the equivalent of a worker co-op in Canada. “Without a doubt, the Canadian experience will increase our expertise. With this first agreement, we mutually commit to share the best practices we have observed and documented. We are certain that this transatlantic partnership will be collectively enriching”, said the President of the CGSCOP, Patrick Lenancker.

This form of ownership is far from being new in Canada. There have been several successful takeovers by the workers, one of the most impressive successes undoubtedly being the Quebec ambulance co-operatives with total turnover of over $90 million and representing 75% of the pre-hospital transportation in the province, with the exception of the city of Montreal. In Quebec, the cooperatives of the St-Hubert Rotisserie in Laval, radio stations M-105 Granby and CHNC in Gaspésie, as well as the Promo-Plastik cooperative in Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, and the Careforce Home care Cooperative in Nova Scotia are other shining examples.

“We have already proven many times that the social economy is a reliable and durable solution to financial insecurity. Now we need to concretely demonstrate to the population and to workers that worker co-ops are the business model of the future,” say both Bridault and Lenancker. They add: “This shared knowledge will help maintain thousands of jobs over the coming years.”

Le Réseau de la coopération du travail du Québec (Quebec Worker Co-op Network) will be one of the principal beneficiaries of this agreement, and agrees with CWCF and CGSCOP. “This agreement with France will allow us to extend our expertise by sharing practical methods and tools. Concretely, it will allow us to provide a more effective approach when supporting a business transitioning to being a worker cooperative in Quebec” adds Pierre Charette, President of the Réseau.

The agreement was signed simultaneously in Montreal and Paris via a video conference at the Ministry of Economy, Innovation and Exports of Quebec in Montreal.

About the Canadian Worker Cooperative Federation
The CWCF’s mission is to strengthen our worker co-ops; support the development of new worker co-ops; represent the Canadian worker co-op movement in Canada and internationally, and strengthen the Federation. The Quebec federations of worker cooperatives, including le Réseau de la cooperation du travail du Québec, are also CWCF members to promote this model internationally.

About the General Confederation of cooperatives and participatory societies
CGSCOP aims to accompany the French cooperative societies of production in the stages of creation, takeover and business transformation. It represents the interests of its members in the various European jurisdictions.

In France, the term “SCOP” is used to describe a worker cooperative.

Source Canadian Federation of Worker Cooperatives and General Confederation of cooperatives
Information     Alexandre Banville
Cooperative communication Belvedere
abanville at
514 772-2984