This Principle implies the progressive development of self-management and, consequently, of the participation of the members in business management. This requires:
- The development of adequate mechanisms and channels for participation.
- Transparent information with respect to the performance of the basic management variables of the co-operative.
- The use of methods of consultation and negotiation with the worker-members and their social representatives in those economic, organisational and labour decisions which affect them.
- The systematic application of social and professional training plans.
- The establishment of internal promotion as a basic means of covering positions with greater professional responsibility.
The first and foremost body of participation is the General Assembly, in which rests the full sovereignty of the co-operative. Its most important powers include: appointing and revoking members of the Governing Council and Accounts Auditors by means of a secret vote; examining company management, approving the annual accounts and the distribution of surplus and apportioning of losses; approving the general policies and strategies of the co-operative; approving increases in share capital, the rate of interest to be accrued by capital contributions and the joining fees for new members; modifying the Company Statutes and approving everything implied by a substantial modification in the economic, organisational or functional structure of the co-operative.
The Governing Council, elected by all the members at the General Assembly, is the representative, management and governing body of the co-operative. It consists of a maximum of 12 members, with half being renewed every two years. The term of office lasts four years, with re-election possible.
Its actions are subordinate to the policies and strategies set by the General Assembly and its responsibilities include: the appointment and dismissal (at the request of the Director General of the respective Subgroup) of the Managing Director of the co-operative; the calling of ordinary or extraordinary General Assemblies; the admission and withdrawal of members; decisions concerning the work and disciplinary system and the application of sanctions; changes important to the organisation and operation of the co-operative; proposing to the General Assembly the approval of the annual accounts, the distribution of profits or apportioning of losses and the resolution of any doubts which may occur concerning the interpretation of the Statutes.
Finally, the Social Council acts as an advisory and consultative body in representation of the members as a whole before the internal authorities of the co-operative. Its members are elected by areas of activity and their number depends on how many members the co-operative has. Its basic functions are advice, information, negotiation and social monitoring.
The responsibilities of the Social Council focus on the drawing up of proposals and reports on decisions to be adopted by the governing bodies, transmitting the information received to those it represents and presenting members’ initiatives to the governing and management bodies.