Mondragon the working co-operative

Essay by DannyRA-, May 2004

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Danny Roberts Business & Ethics

What is a worker co-operative?

A worker co-operative is a business that is owned and controlled by its employees. Each worker owns a share in the business. Decisions as to how the business is run are made democratically by the co-operative system of one member - one vote. Common forms of worker co-ops include Mondragon and The US-Thai.

How do worker co-ops form?

Worker co-operatives generally form in one of two ways. Either a group of people organises a co-operative to create employment for themselves, or an existing company mutualises by selling shares to its employees, who then take over ownership and management.

What is mondragon?

The Mondragon Corporacion Cooperativa (MCC) begin here in 1956 when a group of five young engineers were encouraged by their socialist priest, Father Jose Maria Arizmediarrieta, to set up a cooperative to make paraffin cooking stoves. Using Arizmis vision the five young students built a financial base for the MCC in the Basque region of Spain.

By 1959 they had already formed the Caja Laboral Popular (CLP), the Working People's Bank, which is not only the bank for the cooperatives but is run as a cooperative itself. MCC has grown in its forty years of operation to include 160 different companies, 42,000 worker-owners, 43 schools, one college, it does more than 4.8 billion dollars of business annually in manufacturing, services, retail and wholesale distribution, administers more than $5 billion in financial assets, and has a business plan that is based on the principles of the social doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church?

Statistics show that Mondragon cooperatives are twice as profitable as the average corporation in Spain with employee productivity surpassing any other Spanish organization.

It has its own bank, a research institute, an entrepreneurial division, insurance and...