Learning from France

The news out of Calais of the increasingly desperate attempts by workers there to save at least some of the jobs at the SeaFrance cooperative, which – as I’ve blogged here before  – had previously been contracted to run the MyFerryLink cross-channel ships, is not encouraging but should not blind us to the strength of the worker cooperative sector in France and to the considerable use which has been made in recent years of the SCOP cooperative legal form for rescues of businesses in difficulties.

One example is the now cooperatively run daily newspaper Nice-Matin, and I’ve written elsewhere about, for example, the printing company Hélio-Corbeil where about eighty jobs were saved and the textile firm Fontanille, based in the Auvergne, which after 150 years run as a family concern was successfully saved as a cooperative about three years ago. In many of these ‘rescue’ cooperatives, the trade unions have been key players in the restructuring work.

I think we need more information in Britain about these initiatives just across the Channel, particularly as links begin to develop over here again between parts of the cooperative movement and trade unions. Anyone able to take this on?

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