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:
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.”
He adds: “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.