Our Cooperative Spirit
A cooperative and participative company
Alpine Aluminium, a French worker’s production cooperative company, has inherited the metalworking history of the Forges de Crans site. By acquiring their plant, the employees were able to keep hold of manufacturing and expertise that was previously doomed to disappear. An adventure as human as it is economic and industrial.
What is a worker’s production cooperative?
Worker’s production cooperatives (or SCOP in France—Sociétés Coopératives de Production) are business corporations (LLC, corp., simplified joint stock company) found in all business industries. What sets them apart is that the employees are directly linked to the company’s success: the majority of capital is held by employees, members vote in general assemblies according to the “one person, one vote” principle and earnings are shared equally between the business (reserves), employees (profit sharing) and members (dividends).
A cooperative’s fundamental values are personal and mutual empowerment and responsibility, democracy, equality, fairness and solidarity. Guided by the founders’ principles, members of cooperatives abide by a set of ethics based on honesty, transparency, social responsibility and altruism.
Principle 1: Voluntary membership open to all
Cooperatives are organisations relying on volunteers and are open to anyone able to use their services and determined to take on their responsibilities as members, without discrimination on the basis of sex, social background, race, political affiliation or religion.
Principle 2: Democratic authority exercised by the members
Cooperatives are democratic organisations headed by their members, who actively participate in establishing policies and making decisions. The men and women elected to represent the members are accountable to the latter. In first-level cooperatives, the members have equal voting rights, under the “one member, one vote” rule. Other levels of cooperatives are also organised democratically.
Principle 3: Economic participation of members
The members contribute equitably to the capital of their cooperatives and have control over them. Normally, at least a part of this capital is the cooperative’s shared property. The members usually only receive limited remuneration from capital, as part of membership conditions. Members use surpluses for some or all of the following financial objectives: to develop their cooperative; possibly via the allocation of reserves, of which at least a part cannot be divided; to provide discounts to members, in proportion to their transactions with the cooperative; and to support other activities approved by the members.
Principle 4: Autonomy and independence
Cooperatives are independent organisations based on mutual assistance and managed by their members. Concluding agreements with other organisations, including governments, and seeking funding from external sources are activities that must take place in such a way that the members’ democratic powers are preserved and their cooperative’s independence is maintained.
Principle 5: Education, training and information
Cooperatives provide their members, elected leaders, managers and employees with the education and training they need to be able to effectively contribute to their cooperative’s growth. They inform the general public, particularly youths and opinion leaders, about the nature and advantages of cooperation.
Principle 6: Cooperation between cooperatives
To provide better service to their members and strengthen the cooperative movement, cooperatives work together within local, national, regional and international structures.
Principle 7: Commitment to the community
Cooperatives contribute to their community’s sustainable development, within the context of member-approved positioning.