________________________________________________________ THIS TEXT HAS BEEN MADE AVAILABLE IN ELECTRONIC FORMAT BY THE INTERNATIONAL CO-OPERATIVE ALLIANCE _________________________________________________________ Abstracts : Workshop on Developments in Russia and Eastern Europe October 1997 Source : Abstracts presented to the ICA Committee on Research Annual Conference The Co-op Advantage in Civil Economy, Bertinoro, Italy, October 1997 ROLE OF RUSSIAN CONSUMER CO-OPERATION IN IMPLEMENTATION OF THE STATE SOCIAL POLICY. Galina Chvetsova, Deputy Chief of Educational, Legal and Personnel Department, Centrosojuz of Russian Federation Russian social - economic reforms have resulted in radical changes in the life of the society. They were accompanied by the disintegration of the union state , refusing one-party political system , lowering efficiency of economic activities and standard of living of the most part of the population, increase of unemployment . The situation with protecting social and job rights and guarantees of the citizens has also grew worse. Permanent lack of means has limited the state opportunities in implementation of the social policy. In such conditions the state can not guarantee social maintenance at the level the working people had before perestroika. Consumer Co-operation of Russia is also overcoming great difficulties. Unfortunately , it is leaving its positions in the consumer market, volume indices of economic activities are decreasing. The consumer co-operative economics doesn't provide proper wages and financial support to the social sphere objects. There are more than 4 thousand agricultural and regional consumers' societies and 80 regional unions in Russian consumer co-operative system.640 thousand people are engaged in diversified economy, the specialists comprise their third part. The number of shareholders is more than 15 million people. Before perestroika Russian Consumer Co-operation had a large number of social sphere objects. About 200 of them (nursery schools, pioneer camps, holiday homes and boarding - houses, hospitals and sanatoriums) were still functioning in 1990. Unfortunately, their number has greatly reduced due to the fact that the consumer co-operation can no longer finance them. All social sphere objects are functioning on self-repayment basis. Earlier those engaged in consumer co-operation had large privileges when getting passes to nursery schools, sanatoriums ,holiday homes. There are no social co-operatives in Russia , but the activities are of social character, and those who live in the country - side are suffering the reducing results of consumer co-operation. We may say that the only branch of consumer co-operation , which has survived in such complicated conditions, is the system of co-operative education. It hasn't suffered any forcible variants of reforming privatisation, and has saved its experienced staff , and is playing important role in introducing the state's social policy. There are 98 educational institutions in Russian consumer co-operation. They teach both the workers of mass professions and highly qualified experts and scientific workers. Educational institutions of Consumer co-operation render their help in problems of teaching and employment of rural youth, rising their standard of culture. The shareholders' children have privileges when being enrolled , many students study free, owing to the co-operative organisations paying for them ( we have to pay for education in Consumer co-operation as there is no financing from the state budget means); various branches and subdivisions of educational organisations are being founded in different regions in order to bring the education process nearer to the permanent addresses of the students, what is very important now because of reducing income of rural population. More than 90 thousand people study in Consumer co-operative educational institutions of Russia, the education process is being realised in accordance with state educational standards, the graduates receive state standard diploma. These educational institutions are also undertaking serious social tasks by means of extension courses and courses for improving one's qualification, as it is impossible to improve co-operative activities, uphold it's positions and problem solutions in new economic conditions without experienced and highly qualified staff. PRIVATISATION IN POLISH CO-OPERATIVES 1990 - 1997 Prof. Dr Zofia Chyra-Rolicz, Co-operative Research Institute, Warsaw, Agricultural and Pedagogical Academy, Siedlce, Poland The privatisation of national property was the main goal of political transformation in Poland in 90ties. During almost half a century of Polish People's Republic there was an obligatory dogma about three types (levels) of property: the first, more important and "the best" - it was state property; the second type - it was "social or socialist"; the third one, much worse - private. The co-operative estate was seen as common "socialist". In fact, the origin of co-operative's property after the Second World War was very tangled. The co-operative's property was formed from different sources: - an old co-operative estate (established before the war), which was seen earlier as the private property. It had important meaning in housing co-operatives, where members were the owners of apartments or small family houses; - shares paid by members in currency or in real apportionment (lands, buildings, tools); - estate taken in possession of co-operatives according the government order. It belonged earlier to the class of big and middle landowners, bourgeoisie and it was also left estate after the war. In time of socialist revolution many peasants, merchants and craftsmen were forced to establish co-operatives and put into their lands, buildings or workshops and tools; - state's facilitates in credit, capital expenditure, and assignation of lands and machinery, also in guaranty of monopoly's activity; - co-ops' surplus divided on investment and developing funds. The reorganisation, so called „rebuilding" of Polish co-operatives decided in 1989 - 1990, was oriented to breaking old socialist bureaucratic structure of co-operative's organisations and to create a new voluntary co-ops, restoring a private property of co-ops' members. The decision of liquidation the old co-operative system was made by the „Act on the changes co-operative structure and activity" of January 20, 1990. This act put all central and middle level unions into liquidation and some rules of co-operative law (from 1982) concerning co-operative unions and their inspection had been suspected for almost 1,5 years. This act opened also the problem of division common co-ops' unions' property such different enterprises, factories, laboratories, buildings, training centres. There were no patterns or rules how to do it. The process of liquidation of co-operative unions was long lasting and plenty of conflicts. The co-operative lustration had been suspended until the new regulation of co-operative law. Inspection over co-operatives (analogues to all kind of instruction on enterprises in the state) had been made by the specialised governmental organisation - the Superior Chamber of Supervision. In the time of quickly and deeply political and economical changes co-operatives had been deprived their own instruction and lustration. In the time of deeply transformation of co-operative property, the abolition of co-operative lustration had created the possibility for many irregularities and malversations. MEMBER PARTICIPATION IN THE WORK OF CONSUMER CO-OPERATIVES: CHALLENGES AND SOLUTIONS. Lydia Teplova, Belgorod University of Consumer Co-operatives, Russian Federation Consumers' cooperative system of Russia is a powerful economic and social organization which provides goods and services for rural population in the main. Consumers' co-operative societies are involved in trade, procurement, production, education, training and other economic activities. In the complicated conditions of social and economic restructuring the state encourages the development of consumers' cooperative system, its democratization. On the initial stage of the economic reform in Russia membership participation in the work of consumer societies was deliberately reduced. During 1992-1995 the number of shareholders in the consumers' cooperative system has decreased almost twofold. The implementation of the Decree of the President of Russian Federation on "Measures of stabilization of goods and services supply to rural population" as of May 31, 1996 and Russian Federation Government Decrees on the given problem were decisive factors in the maintenance of consumer cooperatives membership. 3,7 mln people returned to consumer societies in 1996. Consumers' cooperative societies membership amounted to 15,6 mln. Low member involvement in the management and control of the work of cooperatives created conditions for the violation of democratic cooperative principles. Serious changes in the structure of the management of cooperatives and their unions are to be introduced to solve this problem. Low member economic participation in the work of consumer cooperatives complicates financial situation in the consumers' cooperative system. The main forms of member economic participation are investments, contributions, purchase of goods in cooperative stores, sales of agricultural products through cooperative units. Reduction of rural population income, lack of finance resources in the cooperative organizations are objective causes of low member economic participation in the work of their cooperatives. The subjective factor is the inflow into cooperative organizations of administrative workers who are not familiar with the cooperative values, peculiarities of economic activities in these organizations and methods of collaboration with the members.