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SCEW: Social Cooperatives East – West

Models of social co-operatives (western and eastern) in comparison (2008-2009)



The information, consultation and participation of workers in undertakings provide a good way to involve workers in participation mechanisms. Social co-operatives often provide good models for this through their democratic principles. In fact, they are social enterprises that take the form of workers’ co-operatives. This means that workers (or most of them) are members - and owners - of the enterprise. They often develop mechanisms to anticipate serious decisions affecting employees thanks to their democratic principles. Social co-operatives foster democratic governance and good information and consultation systems.

For this reason, Diesis is involved in the European project SCEW: Social Cooperatives East – West - Models of social co-operatives (western and eastern) in comparison (2008-2009), co-written and co-ordinated by NAUWC, the Polish National Auditing Union of Workers’ Co-operatives.

This project brings together 13 partners from Italy, Poland, the Czech Republic, Belgium and Bulgaria. It foresees a series of transnational meetings in these countries, and the kick-off meeting will take place on 29th October 2008 in Kraków, Poland

Project descrription

This project aims to foster the development and the exchange of good practices across Europe concerning information, consultation and participation structures within undertakings, focusing especially on social co-operatives and with the participation of their European umbrella federation.

The focus will be on comparing social enterprises and cooperatives from Eastern and central Europe and from Western Europe through the transnational exchange of good practices.

The collection of good practices will be focused on 3 pillars:

  • The exclusion of disadvantaged people: how the involvement (information, consultation and participation) of disadvantaged workers in social co-operatives is realised;
  • Migrants: if and how positive actions and good practices are present;
  • Long-term unemployment: if and how positive actions and good practices are present to foster the inclusion of unemployed people.

The partnership

This project is built around a partnership among:

Representatives of employers

  • NAUWC, the Polish National Auditing Union of Workers’ Co-Operatives is applicant and coordinating partner
  • The Polish National Union of Co-operatives for Handicapped and Sightless People
  • LEGACOOP Sociali, a national association whose purpose is to organize and represent Legacoop social co-operatives, to promote co-operative policies and values and to support social and entrepreneurial projects
  • AGCI Solidarietà: “General Association of Italian Co-operatives”. it assists and represents associated social co-operatives
  • CGM: this Italian Consortium of Social Co-operatives is a network of social enterprises with a significant number of associates. The activities of CGM member co-operatives and consortia concern social, health and educational services for the elderly, the disabled, minors, drug addicts, etc., and the placement of disadvantaged people
  • SCMVD: The Union of Czech and Moravian Production Co-operatives, including Social Co-operatives
  • NUWPC: National Union of Worker Producers Co-operatives
  • CECOP-CICOPA Europe - European Confederation of Workers’ Co-operatives, Social Cooperatives and Participative Enterprises is an international non-profit association representing small and medium sized worker-controlled enterprises across 42 member countries of the Council of Europe

Representatives of workers

  • Solidarnosc associates workers from three branches, that is banks, trade and insurance
  • CISL, Italian Confederation of Workers’ Trade Unions is the second largest Confederation of Trade Unions in Italy
  • PODKREPA: The Confederation of Labour is a voluntary association of trade union organizations, established on branch and territorial principles

Research centres specialising in social economy and trade unions

  • CESOS CISL, Centro Studi Economici Sociali e Sindacali, is a research centre promoted by CISL, which with the collaboration of Italian and foreign experts co-ordinates and promotes theoretical and empirical studies on industrial relations
  • IRES CGIL, an Economic and Social Research Institute, founded by CGIL. It is a non-profit association that conducts economic and social research

Research centres specialising in social economy at the European level

  • DIESIS, European and International Research and Development Service for the Social Economy and Co-operatives. DIESIS is a non-profit making organisation, based in Brussels and closely linked to European Cooperative movement. Most of its members are social enterprises, co-operatives, advisory and development structures, and organisations specialising in the transfer of know-how recognised as being part of the social economy in Europe and worldwide.