The Central JIGYOUDAN, the primary
member co-op of JWCU, the Japan Workers' Cooperative Union, surveyed
its members' and staff's* work and livelihood last autumn.
- *Staff: those who are engaged
in a special type of occupation and are coordinator for promotion
of co-op movement and business.
In this survey we used a questionnaire
with over 150 questions to fill out. 1593 members or 64% of all
members, from teenagers to eighties, replied. In staff case,
73 persons replied (rate 60%)
Before this discussion, I considered under 39 years old as ÒyouthÓ
to analyze their answers. I wish to sound of their views of their
Òco-op managementÓ and Òtheir
WORKRES' CO-OP AND YOUTH MEMBERS
Workers' cooperatives are characterized
by a wide range of ages of worker members. In this survey, members
are between teenagers and eighties. The members are classified
into three groups by age; the first is under 39 years old as
ÒyouthÓ, the second is between 40 years old and
59 years old as Òmiddle
aged personsÓ, the third
is over 60 year old as Òolder
The percentage of youth is 18%, that of middle aged persons is
50%, and that of older persons is 32% of all members. It is in
this decade that the ratio of youth members has been increasing.
The proportion of men to women is 38:62, or women are a great
majority, especially 87% of members in the business area of Òcare and social beingÓ
are women. As the percentage of members in this area is only
13% of total number of members, the ratio of women workers will
increase in the future.
In the case of staff, 52% is youth, 42% is middle age and 4%
is older persons, or the youth compose the majority of the staff
group. The proportion of men to women is 6:4, or the men are
a majority. Over 90% of youth staff graduated from 4-year-university
DIVERSE WORKING PLACES
A workers' cooperative such as
the Central JIGYODAN has diverse types and places of business.
This diversity makes the youth members work in a variety of places.
According to job classification designated by JWCU, 34% of the
youth members work in ÒDELIVERYÓ, 24% in ÒFOODSÓ, 17% in ÒBUILDING
MAINTENANCE AND CLEANINGÓ,
10% in ÒCARE AND WELL BEINGÓ and 14% in other types of business.
means delivery centers of citizen consumers' cooperatives. Examples
are Co-op Miyagi, Co-op Kyoto, Co-op Kagoshima, by which the
Central JIGYODAN is entrusted and contracted.
includes providing meals for inpatients in public hospitals,
catering, home delivery service, food processing in agricultural
cooperatives. Examples are JA Kagoshima, JA Onga (Fukuoka).
ÒBUILDING MAINTAINANCE AND
CLEANINGÓ is run mainly in
hospitals of Medical Co-ops and members of the Democratic Medical
Others include Park maintenance and gardening, constructing,
recycling, and office work.
75% of youth members reach work every day within 30 minutes.
In Japan this situation is called Òhome
nearby work place.Ó In the
case of staff, longer time is spent in commuting, for their regional
head offices are usually in big cities such as Tokyo, Yokohama,
Osaka, and so on.
ÒNEW KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLSÓ Ð
HAPPY AT WORK
The results of the answers to
the question of ÒWhich did/do
you feel grad to in your working?Ó
is shown in table1.
The answer Ògetting new friendsÓ got 56% responses while Òlearning knowledge and acquiring skillsÓgot 32%.
To the question of ÒAre you
happy at work in your workers' cooperative?Ó,
almost 70% of youth members answered ÒyesÓ as shown in table2 and the first
three reasons for the ÒyesÓ answer of the youth members are Òappropriate working time and dayÓ, ÒGood
human relationshipÓ and Òsuitable for me.Ó
In the case of youth staff, over 80% of them answered Òyes to the same question.Ó These answers show the characteristics
of a workers' cooperative and its youth members and staff.
KEEPING ON WORKING OR NOT IN
The answer of the members and
staff to the question of ÒDo
you want to continue to work in the workers' cooperative?Ó is shown in table3.
Nearly half of all the respondents answered ÒyesÓ, however only 30% of the youth members
I will discuss on the discrepancy between Òhappy
at workÓ and Òkeeping on workingÓ
in the co-op. There is difference between the ÒyesÓ answers of the youth members and the
staff. The older member/staff is, the less different. It can
be said that youth worker is finding their promising.
In fact, this answer is different between 20s and 30s workers.
As 20s have recently taken part in workers' cooperative, moreover
many of them started their worker life at this cooperative, youth
look vacillating between hope and fear. Among 20s the vote of
YOUTH AND THEIR NEIGHBORHOODS/
What do youth workers in the workers'
co-op think of their neighborhoods or local communities?
First, to the question of Òdo
you have acquaintances with your neighbors?Ó,
over 40% of the youth members answered ÒyesÓ while only 16% of the youth staff answered
the same as shown in table4.
Second, the kinds and degrees of acquaintances with their neighbors
are shown in table5.
Youth members' connections with their neighborhoods are statistically
better than that of the youth staff. It reflects above mentioned
Òhome nearby work place.Ó This youth members' connections will
be a strong power to create a cooperative which could devote
to community development.
Finally, the youth workers' answers to the question of Òdo you think that community* remains in
your neighborhood?Ó which
is shown in table6.
- *The word ÓCommunityÓ in the questionnaire means that there
is mutual help among the residents and their support each other.
Nearly half of the youth members
replied ÒI can't say yes or
notÓ and ÒNo
answer.Ó Nevertheless 30%
replied Òyes.Ó In the case of the youth staff, half
of them replied Òyes.Ó This ratio is higher than the average
of all the respondants.
LOCALLY SOCIAL ACTIVITIES IN
To the question of Òdo you have a future plan of a local social
activity in your mind?Ó, 14%
of the youth members replied ÒyesÓ and 47% of the youth staff answered the
same as shown in table7. This result is interest of us.
It is reflected by the fact that most of the youth staff frequently
get in contact with neighborhood associations, shopping districts
and local governments, and by natural consequence, they get many
valuable information from many persons and organizations in the
local society. It is reassuring for the future.
What kind of local social activity is in the young worker's mind?
I will pursue their contents filled the questionnaire by 45 youth
workers (31 members and 14 staff).
33% of youth workers wrote social welfare including on older
persons and persons with diverse abilities, 22% of youth wrote
relations to children and education, 20% wrote relations to environment
protection and keeping a town clean, and others did relations
to hobby, culture and recreation.
ACTUAL FEELING ON PARTICIPATION
The Central JIGYOUDAN is based
on Òmanagement and operation
by all workers membersÓ as
one of the principles of JWCU. It means that ÒWe
should make a decision our future of working and cooperative
through investment, working and management together.
To the question of Òdo you
have a sense or an actual feeling of participation in the management
and operation?Ó, 20% of the
youth member answered clearly Òyes.Ó Is it high or law percentage? I have
no idea because of no benchmark in comparison with other type
In the case of the youth staff, nearly three fourth replied Òyes.Ó
This high level of their actual feeling supports a workers' cooperative
MANAGINGPOSTS YOUTH TAKE IN
In order to run a workers' cooperative,
several posts was formed. We observe on it relation to youth
workers as shown in table9.
According to the result of the questionnaire on it, there is
no or little difference between the Òposition
takingÓ ratio of the youth
and the all members.
In fact there is difference between the director taking ratio
of the youth and all members. This is effected by no director
in 20s staff.
On the whole, the Òposition
takingÓ ratio in table9 resemble
the answer ÒyesÓ ratio in the table8. I don't think it
the accidental nature. As I expected, it cannot be denied that
one's actual feeling of participation in management increases
when he or she take a official position.
If so, a new leaders-system in which many leaders exist should
be developed --- every member is to be a leader depending on
the situation, for everybody has at least one thing that he can
do well. It is a higher standard of participation in the management
and operation than a traditional management that formed hierarchy.
YOUTH WORKER AND OTHER COOPERATIVES
and table11 show the answers to the question of Òare you a member of other cooperatives
such as consumers', medical one?Ó
27% of youth members and nearly 70% of youth staff are also members
of other cooperatives.
YOUTH AND ICA STATEMENT ON
Table12 shows the acquaintance
degree with ICA Statement on cooperative Identity.
Only 6% of youth member know it a little, but over half of youth
staff know it a little and 5% know it well. Youth staff can play
TALKING ABOUT YOUTH PARTICIPATION
A relationship between cooperatives
and youth means in practice a theme of Òcooperatives
and youth participation.Ó
It should make a reference not only to youth member participation
in existing cooperatives. It is more important for us to emphasize
the youth's active involvement in the cooperative movements.
I will discuss on youth participation through two approaches.
The first is wider participation in existing co-op, and exchanges
with other coops. The active range of youth as leaders of tomorrow
should be spread vertically and horizontally. It is a very practical
policy to back up the potential self-growing power of the youth.
The second is to improve the cooperative movements social responsibility.
It should provide young people with solutions to various problems
and promote their welfare interests.
In Japan, a NPO (non-profit organization) once became the center
focus of public attention as a job-creating organization, but
now it appears that an NPO staff cannot earn enough money to
make a living. Therefore, there is a need for coordination among
cooperatives including associated work cooperatives, viz. workers'
co-ops, interest various fields including the local governments.
The cooperative movement would be attractive to the youth if
it could provide solutions to young people who are seeking their
new ways of life and new working styles.
The people who can fully convey the attractive points of the
cooperative movement to the young people are also the youth.
The future of the cooperative movement will depend on the present
youth leaders who will bring the message to the next generation.