Job preservation through worker cooperatives

The recent financial crises in several parts of the world have been followed by a wave of bankruptcies that has taken a heavy toll on workers, business owners and communities. Financial crises and the credit crunch they provoke often lead to the closure of enterprises that are viable and have economic potential, but lack liquidity. This situation has led workers in various countries to respond to these situations by pooling their resources to recapitalize their failing workplaces and operate them in a cooperative mode. Known as empresas recuperadas (‘recovered enterprises’) in the southern cone of South America, this type of response is not new, but has acquired a new relevance in the post-crisis context.

A related phenomenon is that of enterprise closures caused by the retirement of business owners without succession. It is estimated that in the European Union this problem potentially concerns about 150,000 enterprises and some 600,000 workers  every  year  (CECOP-CICOPA,  2013a).  This  explains  why  the  French  Government  has  recently  voted  new  measures  to  improve  and  facilitate  employees’ ability to buy their own workplaces in the cooperative mode and keep them in operation.

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