International Co-operative Alliance welcomes Oxfam report 
urging support for co-ops

26 Jan 2018

Oxfam’s report ‘Reward Work, not Wealth’ highlights several examples of co-operatives which show how to design a fair economy

The International Co-operative Alliance welcomes the report ‘Reward Work, not Wealth’, published by Oxfam as the world’s richest and most powerful are gathering in Davos. It shows that global inequality widened last year, with wealth concentrated in the hands of a small minority. Oxfam wants our economies redesigned to make them more human and equal, and calls on governments, international institutions and corporations to reinvent the private sector guided by the DNA of co-operatives. 

Oxfam urges global leaders to “incentivise business models that prioritise fairer returns, including co-operatives and employee participation in company governance and supply chains”. According to the study, 82% of money generated last year went to the richest 1% of the global population while the poorest half saw no increase.

The Mondragon Corporation, a co-operative group based in Northern Spain, is one of the examples included in the report underlining how democratic decision-making and job security are promoted, with the highest-paid employee earning no more than nine times the lowest. “Our economies could be built with these progressive structures if political leaders prioritise policies that finance, support and foster such models”, claims Oxfam. 

“As Oxfam states, co-operatives are an example of how our economies could be built under democratic decision making and control, equality and job security. The co-operative movement is delighted to put its 2 centuries of expertise at the service of the political leaders to build a better world for all”, said the President of the International Co-operative Alliance, Ariel Guarco. 

The Oxfam report says: “The decisions of businesses impact workers and consumers, farmers and communities, as well as their shareholders and investors. Yet, increasingly, decisions are made only through the lens of maximizing shareholder returns. This has become a straitjacket that traps the mainstream business world into driving inequality. However, businesses, social movements and entrepreneurs have generated a range of concepts that try to wriggle free from the straightjacket: co-operatives, employee-ownership models.”

Oxfam has now been producing its annual report on the world economy for five years, and it is widely spread and keenly awaited by the global community. In 2017, it concluded that the world's eight richest individuals had as much wealth as the poorest half of the world.

Photo: Enrich Sahan, head of Oxfam’s private sector team, with a shrimp farming co-op the charity is supporting in Vietnam