This morning our first activity took us to the Mondragon corporate building. Our bus wound through the small streets and eventually up the hill to a large building overlooking the Mondragon valley. We met up with David's friend again, who was to serve as our gracious host for today.
The Mondragon model is based on people, not on profits. The cooperative spirit is part of every aspect in the company, from the line workers to the managers. With 120 cooperatives worldwide, its reach is far and influences many. They continue to evaluate businesses that could eventually be supported through this model, although we've noted how capitalistic the tendencies of the company are. Like other US companies, they outsource their production plants in other countries around the world, and use their money to acquire other companies. I'm beginning to wonder if this 'cooperative' model in Mondragon is really more of a mixed hybrid between co-op and western corporation. They focus on the positive aspects of the co-op structure and seem to rationalize their actions through that lens, when in fact some could see their actions as no different then some western companies.
Our next destination was one of the Fagor plants that make washers and dishwashers. This experience gave us insight into the working environment, and what kinds of products the cooperative is making. We weren't able to talk to any workers, but I'm curious about whether or not they are happy about their working condition and job placement. The description of the job structure made it sound like workers may not have a choice on what they want to do, despite an hourly rotation of duties.
Then it was lunchtime at an old castle that is now part of the corporation. All of us were hungary, and ready for some food. I ordered a pasta salad and got a greens and tuna concoction which was not at all pasta. :) My main course came as advertised - beef in tomato sauce. yummy.
Back to the classroom in the afternoon. I think most of us would have appreciated a 30 minute siesta before we started again, but no such luck. The info we're going through is long on numbers and stats...a summarized section might have been more effective. We've also been inside most of the day...doing a session outside might also help fight the food comas.
But the session went quickly and soon it was back to town and an evening of wine and tapas. Jimmy and i went and sampled a few different varieties and ended with some gelato before coming back to the hotel and meeting up with others from our group. I think most though are ready to crash...we'll see if that happens.
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