ILO centenary declaration highlights the role of social enterprises in the world of work

The International Co-operative Alliance welcomed the document’s message but called for a clear mention of the role of co-ops

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has published the draft version of its proposed centenary declaration, which calls for action “to shape a fairer, inclusive and more secure future of work with full employment and decent work for all”.

It also highlights the need for an enabling environment for entrepreneurship, innovation and sustainable enterprises, including social enterprises.

The International Co-operative Alliance welcomed the document’s message around reducing inequalities among vulnerable groups, including women and people with disabilities, and to ensure adequate protection of all workers through the implementation of the Universal Labour Guarantee. But it also notes that the document does not acknowledge co-operatives as a type of sustainable enterprise.

Last year, the ICA made a formal commitment towards the promotion of a decent working environment and zero tolerance for any form of harassment through its Declaration on Decent Work and Against Harassment.

The ICA says co-operatives are a recognised tool in the pathway towards formalising the informal economy. The ILO’s Recommendation 193 on the Promotion of Co-operatives provides a basis for law and policies on co-operatives, explaining why there is a need to campaign for co-operatives.

Both the ILO Transition from the Informal to the Formal Economy Recommendation 204 of 2015 and the final report of the Global Commission on the Future of Work also stress the role of co-ops in providing workers in the informal economy a tool to formalise and improve their situation. However, the ILO’s draft centenary declaration does not mention how co-ops can help to achieve the reduction and eventual elimination of informality.

The draft text will be discussed at the 108th (Centenary) Session of the International Labour Conference on 10-21 June in Geneva, with a final version due to be adopted at the event.

In response to the draft document, the ICA calls on ILO constituents to “ensure that the key role of co-operatives in achieving a decent, human-centred work agenda is well-reflected in the final text of the centenary declaration and to prioritise people-centred business models, particularly co-operatives, for a fair, secure and inclusive future of work”.

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