Co-ops in Spain’s Basque Region Soften Capitalism’s Rough Edges

By Peter S. Goodman
New York Times
December 29, 2020

A group of worker-owned businesses may present an alternative model to economies dominated by the interests of shareholders.

If the Erreka Group operated like most businesses, the pandemic would have delivered a traumatic blow to its workers.

Based in the rugged Basque region of Spain, the company produces a variety of goods, including sliding doors, plastic parts used in cars and medical devices sold around the world. As the coronavirus ravaged Europe in late March, the Spanish government ordered the company to shut two of its three local factories, threatening the livelihoods of the 210 workers there.

But the Erreka Group averted layoffs by temporarily trimming wages by 5 percent. It continued to pay workers stuck at home in exchange for the promise that they would make up some of their hours when better days returned.

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