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446. How the social economy mitigates the public mood

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Coop Name: National Auditing Union of Workers’ Co-operatives (NAUWC) N° of Employees: 60
City: Warsaw N° of Members: 200
Country: Poland Year of formation: 1991
Website: http://www.zlsp.org.pl
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Established on 14th November 1991 as a successor of an organisation liquidated during the political transformation in Poland, NAUWC associates production and service co-operatives and cooperates also with social co-operatives. Moreover, the Students’ Development Cooperative Fund belongs to NAUWC. The statutory activities include auditing, training and archiving documents and are conducted through Regional Offices located in every voivodeship in Poland.

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As many parts of Europe continue to feel the effects of a deeply troubled Eurozone economy, in Poland the work continues to build a sustainable, social economy, with the National Auditing Union of Workers’ Co-operatives (NAUWC) playing a leading role. Back in 2004, the Second European Social Economy Conference was held for the first time in Poland and co-organised by NAUWC. Indicating the high level of importance placed in this event, 800 people participated in the Conference. “For the first time in Poland, we could hear, how the social economy affects the economic life in different countries and how it mitigates the mood of the public,” explained Janusz Paszkowski, President of NAUWC. “Directly after the meetings were closed, the Initiative Group, consisting of the representatives of non-governmental organisations and the workers’ co-operative movement, was established.” The Group brought into existence the Permanent Social Economy Conference (SKES). NAUWC delegated Joanna Brzozowska, Manager of the NAUWC Co-operative Development and Promotion Agency and the union’s President Mr Paszkowski. “Since that moment, the cooperation between non-governmental organisations and the co-operative movement within the framework of SKES has been developing significantly,” said Mr Paszkowski. “The SKES meetings are held on a regular basis and they bring measurable effects, e.g. a protest against an unfavourable “Co-operative Law” act, directed to the Polish parliament and government.” It was decided two years ago that a “Pact for the Social Economy” be formulated. The Polish government and SKES with its member organisations should be the parties to the Pact. “We hope that the final version of the Pact will be drafted at the beginning of 2013,” Paszkowski said. The Polish Social Economy Meetings (OSES) constitute one of the important forms of social economy activities in Poland. The Meetings are organised in a different city in Poland each time by a different organisation. They activate the whole social economy sector in a significant way and, in addition, they engage self-government authorities and even the representatives of the Polish government. “The main session is usually supplemented by numerous events promoting the social economy,” said Mr Paszkowski. The theme of the last Meeting in Krakow organized by NAUWC in October 2012 was the promotion of the Polish co-operative movement. “The organisers’ objective was achieved and the promotion was very successful,” he said. “The participants talked many times about co-operativism during the thematic sessions and, importantly, they had a broad knowledge in this field.” After having deeply analysed the situation of the co-operative movement in 2011, NAUWC, decided to amend the profile of its activity in order to assist the associated co-operatives as much as possible. Two funds were established: the Co-operative Assistance Fund and the Co-operative Promotion Fund, which work for the benefit of co-operatives. Since co-operatives willingly use this kind of assistance, the Union’s donations for the funds will be increased in 2013. Furthermore, NAUWC signed an MOU with the Society of Social and Economic Investments (TISE). This will allow NAUWC to expand the possibilities of financing the investment activities of co-operatives in the form of low-interest loans. “Co-operatives in Poland need this kind of assistance because they are suffering from the effects of the economic crisis and it is increasingly difficult for them to obtain financial resources for development and investment activities,” said Mr Paszkowski. The fact that Polish law prohibits auditing unions from conducting business activity constitutes a significant difficulty and obstacle in assisting co-operatives, since the benefits from the business activity could be given to co-operatives.

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