The roots of the co-operative movement in Italy go back to 19th century workers’ associations, with credit services, agricultural and building co-ops forming an important part of the overall economy. There are more than 20, 000 cooperatives, including housing and banking movements, with over 3 million members.
In 2011 Jeffrey Hollander asserted that the success of worker cooperative models in Italy and Spain presents US & UK with a compelling model for building a new, sustainable economy:
An alternative to the “throw-away culture created by the powers that control the economic and financial policies of the globalized world”
Reuters reports that Pope Francis, speaking to members of the Confederation of Italian Co-operatives, condemned economic systems that “suffocate hope” and a globalised culture that treated its employees as disposable. New models and methods are needed that offer an alternative to the “throw-away culture created by the powers that control the economic and financial policies of the globalized world.”
“Co-operatives should continue to be the motor that raises and develops the weakest part of our local communities and civil society”
The Pope said that the establishment of more co-operatives could help to solve crises of unemployment among young people and offer women jobs with a work-life balance that enabled them to care for their families.
Finally he called for money to be ‘at the service of life, managed in the right way by real co-operatives where capital does not command men but men command capital.