The Mondragón family of cooperatives in Spain have been an inspiration to many in the British coop movement for more than fifty years, so it’s distressing to be altered by a piece in the Financial Times last week that Mondragón’s consumer electronics arm Fagor is in difficulties and hurrying to find extra capital to avert bankruptcy. The FT’s piece suggested that Fagor is looking to US hedge funds to bail it out. (I will forbear making any comment about the Co-op Bank at this point.)
In the past few days, the Spanish press has been updating the story on a daily basis, including suggesting that European funding is also being sought. Today El Pais reports that workers at Fagor formed a human chain in the Basque town of Mondragón in an attempt to save jobs or, failing that, to demand equitable redundancy terms.
As the FT says, Mondragón has received global praise for providing an alternative model of employment during the global financial crisis. The Mondragón coops have also up to now been able to support each other, and to help avoid redundancies. Fagor employs 5600 people.
I wrote a background piece on Mondragón for the Guardian last year which now seems to have disappeared from their website. i will try to put the text back up on my own website shortly.
I will be following this sad story and report any further developments here.