Platform Cooperativism Resource Library


Considering that the image of a full time worker employed all life-long in the same enterprise is today constantly questioned by the socio-economic context, where new forms of precarious work are growing, Western Countries are facing some difficulties in shaping these new forms of work into their employment law, usually based on the classic employed work. In fact, if boundaries of employed work are clear, most of new activities belong to the “grey zone” of work. The “grey zone” gathers all the undefined self-employed work typologies, which belong neither to employed nor to fully independent work. Even if the “grey zone” is an undetermined zone in the employment law, it is not a “no-law” zone, but a zone where it is even possible to invent new rights and institutions. In fact, in the “grey zone” we also find experimentations of new forms of work, which answer to difficulties of the self-employed workers who are isolated and live uncertain employment situations.

In this frame, in France and in Italy we find very innovative experiences of cooperation born in the “grey zone”. Particularly, the reference goes to the French model of Cooperatives of Activities and Employment (CAE) and the model created by the Italian cooperative Doc Servizi. These two models are alliances between workers and focus on some specific needs: sharing resources, giving a legal recognition to uncertain employment situations and giving the opportunity to cooperate. Both are an evolution of worker cooperative and offer to self-employed workers one way to obtain both the same rights as employees and autonomy in the management of their business. Actually, the cooperative hires the professional who becomes an employee and, moreover, the cooperative takes in charge the whole bureaucracy connected with his activity. As an employee, the worker is entitled to all the protections of employees and as an associate of a cooperative he is supported in developing his activity and has access to better work conditions.

Through these cooperatives, workers find a solution to their uncertain activities and, working together, obtain more control when they propose themselves in the market and can negotiate better work conditions too. In this way, this cooperative model gives a concrete answer to the still actual plague of illegal labour and the difficulties in shaping the “grey zone” of work in the existing employment law.

Added May 7, 2020