COOPERATIVE companies in Castellon are not only surviving the COVID crisis– they have emerged even stronger.
There are currently 365 coops of different types throughout the province that directly employ an estimated 9,000 workers, with 19 new ones set up in 2020 – the worse year of COVID.
Last year’s figure of new cooperative companies is identical to 2019 and 2018, and double the number registered in 2017.
“We shine during economic crises because we are very resilient,” said Emili Villaescusa, president of Valencian regional cooperative confederation Concoval.
While traditionally the strongest coop trades in Castellon have been agricultural and credit, nowadays one of the most popular is associated companies, i.e. where the employees are also the owners of the firm.
In fact, 18 of the new cooperatives created last year belong to this category, which already accounts for 60% of the total in the province.
Spokespeople reveal that the secrets of success of their business model are flexibility and self-regulation, with the ability to adapt to changing circumstances, diversify and create new lines of business.
The difference with traditional companies, they say, is that people always come first and full employment is the priority.
Cooperative firms have proved to be an invaluable refuge in times of high unemployment, continuing to take on workers from the dole and self-employed people looking to improve their working conditions.
This is in part aided by the fact that coops are taxed 20% compared to the 25% of mercantile companies – and the rate can be slashed to as low as 8% if a series of parameters are met, such as employing more workers than the required minimum established by law.
Supporters of the cooperative model highlight the stability and quality of the jobs created, with 84% of employees on indefinite contracts and 85% employed full time.