Abstracts: Workshop on Privatisation and Public Policy (1997)



Abstracts :  Workshop on Privatisation and Public Policy

                    October 1997

Source : Abstracts presented to the ICA Committee on Research Annual
Conference The Co-op Advantage in Civil Economy, Bertinoro, Italy, 
October 1997


Dr Yohanan Stryjan, Sodertorns  Hogskola, Sweden

The traditional Swedish model, pursued by successive Swedish governments
from the 30s onwards presupposed full employment, a virtually frictionless
 labour-market, and continuous industrial expansion. New jobs were to be 
created by the 'business community' (näringslivet),  the state was to underwrite 
overheads, and individuals were expected to be mobile. The model did
not legitimate the social economy's involvement in job-creation. 
Consequently, the sector's  role in insertion /reintegration tasks, and in
job-creation in general, was relatively limited and low-profile. Job-creating
 initiatives were initially confined to countryside and regional development, 
 a field perceived as laying outside the scope of labour market policy. This
 situation is apparently changing at present. The increasing third-sector 
engagement in labour-market insertion and employment creation is, however, 
largely moulded by this historical background. The paper
gives a general description of the Swedish situation, and sketches out some typical
features. Most notably, Swedish voluntary organizations have traditionally focused their
resourcefulness primarily on activating people, rather than employing them. As a logical
extension of this attitude, the current expansion strategy of the sector sets premium on
the proliferation of new, independent organizations, rather than on the expansion of
existing ones, and promotes the creation of loosely knitted networks of  neo-co-operative
and community organizations. 


Dr Gabriele Ullrich, International Labour Office

In the context of rethinking the role of the state, restructuring, 
adjusting and cost containment of public budgets, the community at international,
regional, national and local level looks for alternatives to finance and provide services
in the public interest. This is often reviewed under the simplified and shortened heading

Action to implement privatization is taken in industrialized and developing countries as
well as in economies in transition.  It refers to introducing private-type management in
the provision and finance of services in the public interest, to contracting out of such
services to the private (for-profit and not-for profit) sector, and to selling the
facilities and licensing the provision of the services to the private sector.

The services concerned vary in each country according to the cultural and traditional
context, the political and economic orientation and other factors in the civil society.
They may  include  utilities (e.g. Gas, electricity and water), infrastructure of
communication (e.g. Postal and telecommunication, transport), community and social
services (e.g. Education, care of children and elderly, leisure and sports), medical and
health services. 

What can co-operatives offer to the community when services in the public interest are
privatized?  The organizational form of co-operatives gives them the possibility to
mobilize finance in the community through joint efforts, spend the budget in a social and
non-profit way, control and monitor the spending jointly and regularly, create
responsibility and solidarity among the community which takes part in the enterprise.

Where are the short comings of co-operatives to take over services in the public
interest? If the provision and finance  is organized by co-operatives of the consumers or
clients, are they still accessible to everybody, who is in need of the services, or do
the public authorities still have to supply services to those who are not members of the
co-operative? If the services are accessible to everybody, do the co-operatives loose
their specific characteristics?  Co-operatives of the providers, possibly even of the
employees of the former public provider, may also be an alternative for the provision of
services in the public interest. What would be the implications here? Would the
co-operative members find satisfactory working conditions and pay?
Would the provision of the services be satisfactory? Who would monitor and control 
the delivery of the services? The paper will examine these and similar questions
 in order to come to some realistic conclusions what co-operatives may not be able to offer.


John Restakis, CCA Ontario, Canada

Canada, like other western industrialized countries, is in the midst of a fundamental
redefinition of the role of government, and of the nature and delivery of public
services. This shift in the role and operation of government has deep implications for
civil society, for the nature and relevance of public responses to social issues, for the
nature and meaning of citizenship and governance, and for the role of co-operative models
as a viable alternative to the privatization of public services.   

In January of 1996, the Canadian Co-operative Association (CCA), in 
partnership with the Institute for Public Administration of Canada (IPAC), and the
Conseil Canadien de la Co-operation (CCC), initiated a unique research and development
project to explore and document the role of co-operatives in the delivery of public
services both in Canada and abroad. The CAPS project (Co-operative Alternatives for
Public Services), is now completing its first stage.

This paper will present the primary findings of the first stage of this 
project, and will explore the significance of co-operative models for governments
searching for alternative structures for the delivery of public services. It will also
address the challenges that government restructuring poses to the co-operative sector,
and the unique role co-operatives can play as agents of civil society.


Dr Carlos Alberto Farias, Universidad Nacional de Rosario, 
Facultad de Derecho, Argentina

World-wide employment problems are increasingly concerning all social sectors,
particularly those governments which have had to rearrange socio-economic policies so as
to find possible alternatives for workers to overcome the unfair situation they were
going through.Co-perativism has always provided solutions so that a decent job does no
only meet workers basic needs but also the possibility for them of developing fully as
human beings. Argentina - member of the MERCOSUR along with Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay has
introduced radical changes, earlier than the other countries, in its economic system
achieving soon important modifications in its economic development.

One of the main achievement was the reduction of the State sector and the privatisation
of many State companies including Telephoning, Airlines, Petroleum producers and
Transport  and especially Argentine Railways. Thus, many State employees, aware of the
fact they were going through a transformation process, decided to form two working
co-operatives looking for and overcoming alternative that includes 300 State former
workers These working co-operatives called "Taller Perez (Perez Workshop)" and Talleres 
Coche Rosario (Coach Rosario Workshops)" merged in 1966 becoming "Complejo Industrial
Ferroviario Perez (Perez Railway Industrial Complex)" which faces a new philosophy
fostering its activities development based on Total Quality principles, aiming at
improving the quality of living and offering an efficient service according to the
important role of this region.