Revival of cooperatives

We’re only talking about her, Railcoop, the train’s little finger who attacks the SNCF cannibal to revive abandoned tracks. It has all the ingredients for a good story, and, icing on the cake, extra soul. As the name suggests, Railcoop is a cooperative owned by 10,000 of its members, employees of the company, local governments or ordinary citizens.

A bubbling cooperative sector

There’s also Toutenvelo, the anti-Deliveroo, whose suppliers are not only employees but also those who make decisions on the company’s strategy and are interested in results. Or La Louve, the cooperative supermarket in Paris, which was imitated in Bordeaux, Toulouse, Bayonne, and also in Pied de Borne, in Lozère…

→ READ. Railcoop: A small rail co-op begins its rail adventure

“There is a real boom in the cooperative sector”, says Christel Giraud-Dumer, public relations manager for Coop FR, an organization representing French cooperative enterprises. Cooperatives are popular, and not just in the traditional sectors of agriculture or distribution. Delivery, data management, telecommunications, medicine are new areas where this two-century-old business model based on the combination of capital, profit and management is being deployed.

From 500 to 2666 ospreys

There are 22,600 cooperative companies in France, whose combined turnover has been steadily growing for ten years and will reach almost 330 billion euros by 2020. 2018 and 2020 to reach a total of 2666 people. “In the 1970s there were barely 500 of them”– recalls Anne-Catherine Wagner, sociologist, professor at the University of Paris 1.

Science projects that bring citizens, employees as well as local governments together around a territory-related project are also on the rise, with a 22% increase in the same period. “Five years was a clickexplains Dominique Guerre, president of Railcoop, local authorities have adopted this tool. »

Values ​​with the times

When traditional agricultural cooperatives are losing ground, Coop FR is seeing a craze for cooperative supermarkets whose users, who are also members, have to dedicate some of their time to running the store. “They are true to the spirit of cooperation, which implies the real participation of all members”, says Christel Giraud-Dumer. Bicycle delivery groups are thriving, “a movement that we didn’t expect”she rejoices.

The values ​​associated with the cooperative movement – the fair distribution of wealth and power, the collective dimension – are well suited to the times. “People want to give meaning to their workconfirms Olivier Giraud, network manager of Toutenvelo. Being a delivery man doesn’t have to be very motivating. Being a bike delivery man is already better. But being a delivery man and a scoop is another thing! »

“Our scop organization is of great interest to job seekers, young engineers, as well as not so young people who are tired of big companies”says Marion Barbarin, who runs engineering and consulting firm Néodyme, which its employees bought just a year ago.

Strong political aspect

This form of organization remains in the minority, even if, recalls Ann-Catherine Wagner, cooperatives have never been so numerous in their two centuries of existence. “There are all the necessary structures to support project managersassures Dominique Guerre at Railcoop. But we suffer from ignorance of the cooperative movement, from a lack of information. »

The creation of cooperatives, in particular cooperatives with the participation of employees, is the work of highly motivated people, driven by strong political convictions, where the collective prevails over individualism. “We train and support people who come to work with us to involve them in the decision-making process.explains Olivier Giraud of Toutenvelo. Our project is clearly a worker emancipation project.” Dominique Guerre of Railcoop admits: “We will remain an alternative. » An alternative that has stood the test of time.

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