Column: Viable Option For Economic Growth

November 14, 2016

[Opinion column written by BPSU President Jason Hayward]

In October 2016, a delegation from the Bermuda Trade Union Congress [BTUC] attended the Quebec 2016 International Summit of Cooperatives.

The event attracted more than 2,500 participants from 93 countries, bringing together managers, decision-makers and leaders of cooperatives and mutual enterprises of all sizes and from all sectors. This summit provided a unique venue for reflection, discussion, cooperation and training on major trends, and current and Future economic and financial issues.

The aim of the BTUC delegation’s attendance was to network with cooperative professionals and experts in order to gain knowledge on the industry, build relations that will allow us to capacity-build in regards to cooperatives in Bermuda, and explore options for cooperative business development.

A key component of the summit’s agenda was demonstrating that cooperatives are one answer to the major socio-economic issues currently being faced throughout the world.

Jason Hayward Bermuda TC November 14 2016

According to the ILO, cooperatives are autonomous associations of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs, and aspirations through a jointly owned, and democratically controlled, enterprise. Cooperatives have several types of ownership models including:

  • Worker/Employee Cooperatives – members who work in the business;
  • Consumer Cooperatives – members are consumers of commodities;
  • Solidarity Cooperatives – multi stakeholder co-operative, members can be both consumers and workers;
  • Small Business Cooperatives – organizations or businesses that pool their resources in order to compete with larger corporations; members are producers of goods and sery ices.

Regardless of the ownership structure, cooperatives generally operate with common values and principles such as:

  • cooperative values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity; as well as ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others; and,
  • cooperative principles developed by the international cooperative movement. These principles are: voluntary and open membership; democratic member control; member economic participation; autonomy and independence; education, training and information; cooperation among cooperatives; and concern for community.

In Bermuda, our experience with cooperatives has been primarily limited to the businesses established by the members of the Bermuda Industrial Union [BIU], namely the BIU Members Credit Union and the Co-op Supermarket. The Credit Union continues to grow at a slow and steady pace while the Co-op Supermarket met its fate many years ago.

Unlike in Bermuda, cooperative businesses are thriving and are viable business models throughout the rest out of the world. The International Cooperative Alliance reported that cooperatives provide full-time or part-time employment to over 250 million persons worldwide.

In addition, the overall annual turnover of cooperatives exceed $2 trillion annually. Cooperatives are found in a range of sectors including: Banking and Finance, Insurance, Agriculture, Utilities, Wholesale and Retail, Healthcare and Housing.

Cooperatives exist in almost every country of the world. This is because they create value for the economies in which they operate. Cooperatives promote economic development through the formulation of new businesses and the creation of jobs.

Additionally, they allow ordinary citizens to become business owners and managers, are sustainable, and are a healthy alternative to wealth-driven business models. While Bermuda continues to search for a second pillar for its economy, cooperatives will allow for the expansion of current industrial sectors.

Cooperatives are a viable option for economic growth and development in Bermuda, To that end, the BTUC will seek to educate the general public on cooperative ownership, build cooperative management and development capacity, and discuss with the Bermuda Government the necessary policy support needed.

- Jason Hayward


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Comments (13)

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  1. San George says:

    There is no need to speak to the government. You should expect them to pass legislation in order to block you after the fact. They will probably also require you to seek permission from the Governor. Go for it and see what happens – you will be Trumped!

  2. hmmm says:

    Right then, off you go and start a cooperative business, where all the profits belong to the cooperative group.

  3. Derek W says:

    Perhaps the BTUC should follow government a lead and publish the expenses incurred for this trip that member dues have funded.

    I personally like co ops, but would not invest in one on this island.

  4. wahoo says:

    So this is not a new idea even for Bermuda. I guess the best place to start is asking why the supermarket failed and why the credit union barely gets by. Must have been a fun trip for the “delegation” though.

    • Onion Juice says:

      Sounds better then de Rio Ambassadors.

      • Onion Juice says:

        It failed because members and Black people have been socially conditioned to believe that de white man’s ice is colder.
        It’s been about 3 centuries off psychological damage, but we’re making progress.

        • wahoo says:

          Guessing you are black, are you convinced that the white man’s ice is colder? What is sad is that I was not even thinking about color when I commented it was you that went there. You are a racist. Being black or white has nothing to do with ability to manage successfully.

          You constantly go to race because you have no other way of rationalizing things that you do not agree with. You are PLP and BIU through and through but not because you agree or even understand their motives, no, it is because you are a robot conditioned from birth. You need to get out of Alaska Hall and see that everyone else is working towards a better place.

  5. PBanks says:

    If BTUC wants to promote co-ops, that’s all well and fine. Maybe they can get the buy-in and get some ventures up and running. But considering the history with Co-op Supermart, is it realistic for such businesses to operate here at this time?

  6. Onion says:

    If you think it’s viable then start one.

  7. hmmmmmmmmmmm says:

    hmmmmm really. so being you are for this it is now ok but when government proposed the same thing for certain government departments you had enough to say as to why it is not a good option. you are not even coming up with new ideas but reskinning government ideas but will get everyone behind it because it is coming from you.

    my my it must be fun playing puppet master with your members.

  8. aceboy says:

    More puffery and shallow ideas.

    What KIND of CoOp business is this joker suggesting? A supermarket? Been there, done that…and failed.