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Social needs could increase worker and social cooperatives in China


In China the lack of cooperative legislation has made the reestablishment of cooperatives difficult. Now, apart from the 2006 “Farmers Specialized Cooperatives Law", there is still no legislation on other types of cooperatives nor any basic cooperative law. The government department responsible for enterprise registration does not accept the registration of cooperatives outside farmers' cooperatives because of the absence of any legal basis: as a result, worker cooperatives and social cooperatives are difficult to establish, says professor Tang Zongkun, Researcher at the Economic Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

However, owing to the pressure coming from social needs, worker cooperatives and social cooperatives have been established in a number of places. Once the present gap in cooperative legislation can be bridged, worker cooperatives and social cooperatives could experience a spurt in their development. The worker cooperatives conforming Sisters Hand-Weaving and the social cooperative Beijing Seniors are two of the examples.

The Shanghai College for Women’s Experimental Correspondence Continuing Education has helped students organize the Sisters Hand-Weaving Cooperatives through skills training and cooperative education, thereby helping disadvantaged groups of women become self-reliant, engage in a trajectory of workers’ entrepreneurship and get rid of poverty. The school has helped establish 18 cooperatives of that type, which founded the Weaving Arts Cooperative Union together with the Shanghai Wulixiang Community Service Centre. The Shanghai College for Women’s Experimental Correspondence Continuing Education is a women’s non-governmental school founded in 1994 and led by Wang Cuiyu, a volunteer and dean of the school. Since the school was founded, it has carried out more than 20 kinds of professional practical skills training courses, free or almost free of charge, attended by more than 30,000 women including Shanghai unemployed workers in great difficulties, migrant women peasant workers, poor rural women from the suburbs, helping them learn skills and become self-employed.

The social cooperative Beijing Seniors Cooperatives was established with the aim to provide home care services to the elderly from the local community. "Senior" [the Chinese word for “senior”, leling, litterally means “age of fun”] means that old age should be fun. The fact that the cooperative was named "Senior" [“age of fun”] is meant to express that it should create a happy environment for the elderly, so that each elderly person can enjoy his/her years as senior at home and end his/her life with dignity.