The International Labour Organization has published a report on Decent Work and the Social and Solidarity Economy, which highlights the sector’s contribution to empowering workers around the world.
The report mentions how the SSE, which includes co-operatives, mutuals, associations, foundations, social enterprises and self-help groups, promotes international labour standards and compliance with the fundamental principles and rights at work.
The document mentions some of the contributions of the SSE to decent work, such as facilitating access to social protection for their members, empowering informal workers, fostering social dialogue, promoting gender equality and enabling women to accede to leadership roles.
Furthermore, the report explains that the SSE can also create jobs through worker-owned enterprises such as worker co-operatives, which, it adds, “can be an effective strategy for generating employment and supporting livelihoods, especially among informal workers”.
As pointed out by the report, the term “social and solidarity economy” lacks universal acceptance. Other terms closely associated with the SSE include, among others, ”social economy”, “third sector”, ”social enterprise”, “non-profit sector”, ”solidarity economy”, ”alternative economy” and ”popular economy.
The report tries to help define SSE by providing a set of values distinguishing it from other subsets of the economy: social or public purpose; prohibition or limitation of profit distribution; democratic and participatory governance; voluntary cooperation; and autonomy and independence.
In terms of challenges for the sector, the report adds that despite the growing momentum around the SSE, several barriers continue to restrict its development. It suggests developing an enabling environment for the SSE through tripartite participation with representative organisations of employers and workers, as well as in consultation with other relevant and representative organisations of persons concerned.
As part of this, the report recommends ensuring a conducive environment to ensure a level playing field for SSE and other enterprises and adopting SSE legislation that explicitly recognises SSE values and principles provides a strong basis for promoting the SSE.
The report was produced for the 110th session of the International Labour Conference in Geneva, in June 2022, which will focus on Decent Work and the Social and Solidarity Economy.