With the International Labour Conference currently underway in Geneva, delegates from around the world could adopt a landmark declaration on the future of work. Ahead of the conference, the International Cooperative Alliance released the following statement urging the international body to recognize the central role cooperatives have globally in safeguarding the “fairer, more inclusive, and more secure future of work” the ILO is seeking.
The International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) welcomes the International Labour Organization (ILO)’s Centenary outcome document released in May, in which the Director-General calls upon all ILO constituents to commit to a human-centered agenda by focusing their efforts on reducing inequalities amongst vulnerable groups, including women and people with disabilities.
The document also calls for the safeguarding of a “fairer, more inclusive, and more secure future of work” for all by ensuring good governance in ILO processes, based on equality and democratic participation. Moreover, the ICA shares the view that workplaces have to “ensure adequate protection of all workers” through the implementation of the Universal Labour Guarantee.
Nevertheless, cooperatives regret that the Draft ILO Centenary Declaration failed to acknowledge cooperatives as a specific type of sustainable enterprise: one that is responsible for a large proportion of global employment, generating decent work and continuously experimenting with new ways of working—whereas other types of enterprise are mentioned.
More than a decade ago, the cooperative movement committed itself to protecting fundamental workers’ rights and securing an adequate living wage through the ILO Promotion of Cooperatives Recommendation, 2002 (no. 193). Being fully engaged in labour standards, the ICA wishes to point out that last year, the cooperative movement gave itself the task to “respect, promote, and act diligently to support the fundamental tenets of decent work” through the ICA Declaration on Decent Work and Against Harassment.
Furthermore, this draft declaration for consideration by the International Labour Conference fails to address the issue of how ILO constituents can achieve “the reduction and eventual elimination of informality” and the role of cooperatives in this regard. These aspects are reiterated in the ILO Transition from the Informal to the Formal Economy Recommendation, 2015 (no. 204) and Global Commission on the Future of Work’s final report which states “workers in the informal economy have often improved their situation through organizing and working together with cooperatives and community-based organizations.” Cooperatives are a recognized tool in the pathway towards formalizing the informal economy and, more broadly, contribute to sustainable development, peace and equality. Because every voice counts, cooperatives play a crucial role in shaping a fairer, more democratic, and more inclusive future of work.
Cooperatives are a recognized tool in the pathway towards formalizing the informal economy and, more broadly, contribute to sustainable development, peace and equality.
The ILO Centenary outcome document has now been submitted to the Committee of the Whole for the upcoming International Labour Conference, held June 10-21, where there will be negotiations on the ILO Centenary Declaration on the Future of Work for further consideration.
A call to ILO constituents
As a global actor that provides jobs or work opportunities to 10 percent of the total world employed population, while generating decent and stable work and collective wealth—both in urban and rural areas—the cooperative movement calls on all ILO constituents:
- to ensure that the key role of cooperatives in achieving a decent, human-centered work agenda is well-reflected in the upcoming ILO Centenary Declaration on the Future of Work and;
- to prioritize people-centered business models and, in particular, cooperatives for a fair, secure and inclusive Future of Work!