International Update (1997)

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This document has been made available in electronic format
by the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA)
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July, 1997
(Source: Asia-Pacific Co-op News, Vol.4, No.2, Apr-June 1997, pp.9-12)


INTERNATIONAL UPDATE
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Co-op video to promote cultural understanding
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A co-operative production company has been commissioned to produce an
international video on cultural tolerance.

Vision Network will soon start filming the 25-minute video in Barbados,
Tanzania and the United Kingdom.

Vision Network member Nick Spollin said, "We feel strongly about
helping people to understand more about other countries.  The aim of our
video is to put a stop to stereotyping and to promote understanding
between cultures."

In 1992, Spollin and Malcolm Clare visited a health clinic in Ethiopia
where they saw over 200 women watching a British health education video
with white actors speaking English.

"It came as no surprise to us that the women, who obviously had no
understanding of English, were paying little attention to the important
topic," said Spollin. This prompted them to contact Avon Co-operative
Development Agency - and Vision Network was formed. They began to
make videos with local people, using interpreters, music and drama to help
communicate the health education message.

AIDS, childbirth, malaria, and trachoma have all been subjects for
additional videos produced by Vision Network in other countries since the
visit to Ethiopia.

One series of videos made in 1994 were produced with the input of the
Masai tribe in Kenya and proved to be very successful.

"Videos are very popular because of illiteracy, and have proved a very
effective means of communication in many different communities," said
Spollin.

The most recent film will also be used in schools in the United Kingdom.
For more details, contact: 
0117- 929 8466.

American credit unions take on the big banks
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Legislation aimed at guaranteeing the right of millions of Americans to
choose to join credit unions was introduced March 20 before the U.S.
House of Representatives, reported the May/June 1997 Perspectives.  
Current law limits membership to groups having "a common bond." 
Bankers have filed lawsuits to try to limit credit union membership, one
now pending before the Supreme Court, claiming every credit union
member must share the same bond.

The proposed Bill, "The Credit Union Membership Access Act," will
amend the U.S. Federal Credit Union Act to read, "memberships of any
federal credit union shall be limited to one or more groups each of which
have (within such group) a common bond."

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal on the AT&T Family
Federal Credit Union case, after the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled on July
29, 1996 that the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) acted
beyond its scope of authority in approving field of membership
expansions to include multiple-employer groups. 

That ruling overturned a pro-credit union lower court decision in the case 
brought by five North Carolina banks and the American Bankers
Association.  

Bankers argue that NCUA has been improperly interpreting the Credit
Union Act since 1982 by allowing credit unions to include groups of
employees with different employers.  NCUA says that the Act allows
such groupings, which create strength in diversity.

The Supreme Court decision to hear the case implies validity to the legal
arguments of credit unions and the NCUA. 

The House Banking Committee recently held a hearing on the field of
membership issue where both sides had their say. 

Bankers beat up on credit unions, arguing banks can't compete if every
consumer has the opportunity to join a credit union.

The Credit Union National Association and the NCUA appeared before
the committee to argue that allowing credit unions to expand their base and
join together creates economic viability in turbulent economic times. 

The diverse membership within credit unions supports a co-operative
mandate, making credit available to low and middle income earners.
While most members of Congress have voiced strong support for credit
unions, they may delay passing legislation until the Supreme Court has its
say.

(extracted from the NCBA Co-operative Business Journal, Vol. 11, No.2,
March 1997 and Perspectives, May/June 1997)


Food for Thought - Ideas for Action
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The produce we buy in shops has a direct impact on the livelihood of
farmers in the developing world.  The disparities are enormous - South
African fruit farm worker would have to work 15 centuries to earn the
salary of a supermarket chain chief executive.

1.	Turn your purchasing power to the advantage of producers overseas
by ensuring you buy fairly traded goods :

2.	Write to the manager of your local store asking how they ensure that
the workers producing the goods they sell enjoy basic rights.

3.	Hand in your letter at the till with a recent receipt to prove you shop
there.

4.	Write as a group of people living in your area to strengthen your
message.

5.	Join Farmers World Network (FWN) and get involved in local
activities.

(taken from AIRD News, February 1997, Source: Orbit)

UK Co-operative Party Elects 26 MPs to Parliament
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The Co-operative Party in the United Kingdom celebrated a landslide
victory in the general election on May 1, 1997 which saw all 26
Labour/Co-operative candi-dates victorious.  They now form the largest
ever group of co-operative-backed members elected to Parliament.

The wins came in  England, Scotland and Wales, and included seats in
traditional Conservative strongholds.

Dr. Peter Clarke, National Secretary of the Co-operative Party, said that
the sitting MPs are now joined by new members who have come up
through the party and understand the agenda. He said the new MPs would
work with long-standing members to promote co-op ideals.  For the first
time candidates in the election were clearly labelled joint Labour/Co-op
Party.

ICMIF appoints new Regional Advisors in Asia and Africa
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Mr. Hiroshi Okamura, former ICMIF  Regional Advisor for Asia and the
Pacific Region, is the newly appointed Regional Advisor for Africa. 

In January 1998, Mr. Okamura will work with the development program
for co-operative insurance for trade union members and co-operatives in
Ghana. 

Taking over from Mr. Okamura will be Mr. Keiji Kawahara, who brings
to the job many years of experience in development. 

Eastern Europe  Employee Ownership Growing
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Employee ownership has grown rapidly in the transitional economies of
Central and Eastern Europe, reported the June 1997 World of Work, the
magazine of the International Labour Office. 

Privatization surprises in transition economies:  Employee-ownership in
Central and Eastern Europe, edited by Milica Uvalic and Daniel Vaughan
Whitehead, 1997, ISBN 1-85898-621-4.

This book presents the results and policy recommendations of a wide
ranging survey of employee ownership within privatization legislation in
14 transitional economies. 

It identifies strengths and weaknesses of employee ownership, addressing
the issues of enterprise restructuring, employment, wages, productivity
and investment policies.

Canada  Credit Union Alliance Targets Small Business 
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Credit Union Central of Canada formed an alliance with the Canadian
government-owned Business Development Bank (BDB) in a joint effort
to target entrepreneurs and companies with fewer than 100 employees
and total sales under US$7.4 million, reported Credit Union Central of
Canada publication Briefs. Small business owners can now take advantage
of BDB services and local credit unions to access capital, manage
operations, and develop plans for future growth. 

ICA Americas Regional Conference for Americas to Tackle Unemployment 
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The Regional Conference for ICA Americas, Co-operatives Facing
Unemployment, will take place in Mexico, D.F. on November
19 to 21, 1997.

The conference will design a co-operative strategy to combat
unemployment, and is open to all co-operative leaders, private
enterprises, politicians, journalists, students and the public.

International Health Organisation forms at Regional Assembly
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Three of the world's largest health co-operatives came together in
November 1996 to form an ICA specialised organisation, ICA News
recently reported.  UNIMED of Brazil, the JCCU Medical Committee,
and Espriu Foundation (Spain) held their founding meeting in conjunction
with the ICA Regional Assembly for the Americas.  Seven other
organisations have applied to join, from whom three new board members
will be elected.  

Not all NGOs are genuine!
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The development funding bubble is about to burst. The Central Social
Welfare Board (CSWB) is going to blacklist several thousand Non-
Governmental Organisations (NGOs).

Following the non-submission of audited accounts by several NGOs which
have received funds from them, the CSWB initiated independent
investigations and discovered that an alarming number of these NGOs exist
only on per. 

Since the present chairperson took over the CSWB, the investigations have
been going and funding to suspect NGOs has been frozen. The CSWB is
currently going through the investigation reports and preparing the list of
NGOs to be blacklisted.

Widespread irregularities in the accounts of the various NGOs are being
investigated and vigilance enquiries have been sought in several states.
Consequent to the freezing of funds, the chairman and the executive director
of CSWB have received threats to their lives. The case is being investigated
by the South District Police.

Looking into the functioning of the Family Counselling Centres (FCCs), the
Institute for Psychological Research and Studies, Patna University, stated
that of the 21 FFCs evaluated, 38 per cent were found to be bogus. In
Maharastra, the Karve Institute of Social Science, Pune, found that only
three of the 18 FFCs were functioning property. The worst reports came
from Haryana, Bihar, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.