ILO calls for papers on trade unions and cooperatives

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) is calling for papers on the relationship between trade unions and cooperatives. The ILO suggests that the documents will show how trade unions have been using the cooperative model and working with the cooperative movement to achieve economic, social and political objectives. We insist that the call for papers is particularly interested in case-studies that can provide lessons for trade unions and cooperators internationally.

19 December 2012

The ILO is interested in contributions documenting developments that have arisen in these areas in recent years. People can submit papers covering a number of different questions. These include (as indicated below by the ILO):

- Despite their demonstrated resilience, viability, and potential, worker cooperatives generally remain marginal economic players, what are the obstacles that stand in the way of establishing and strengthening them? And how can Trade Unions help with it?

- Worker cooperatives have been set up as a response to plant closures and/or delocalisations across different times. What has been the role of trade unions in facilitating the creation of such cooperatives, what were the obstacles (organizational, financial, legal, and cultural), that needed to be overcome?

- The emergence of “social economy” enterprises that provide needed social services and in so doing, create a new model of social inclusion for both workers and their clients. Such developments are often perceived by Trade Unions as a setback from the provision of such services by the public sector and a threat for job quality, yet with fiscal pressures and the growing needs, these initiatives have multiplied in recent years. What assessment can be made of social economy from a trade union point of view? Can the social economy provide a viable partner in the provision of social services and decent work?

- Cooperatives of self -employed workers in the informal economy, who cannot be organized in the traditional way, have provided workers with voice. Trade Unions have often lent support to those workers through the creation of service cooperatives? (savings and credit, housing, consumer cooperatives) to improve both their bargaining power and their livelihoods. Have these initiatives been successful and sustainable? What are their conditions of success? In what way do they change the relationship between Trade Unions and workers in the informal sector? How do they improve the working conditions of the self-employed?

- What are successful models of cohabitation between Trade Unions and worker cooperatives and what can they teach us? On the same topic, it is often asserted that worker cooperatives provide better working conditions and more meaningful work, but what is the evidence? What are the conditions that lead to or inhibit the achievement of decent work in worker cooperatives?

Papers should be no more than 7,000 words. Proposals will be received until February the 2nd, 2013. Authors of the papers selected will be invited to present them at a workshop to be held in Geneva in May 2013 for eventual publication in the fall of 2013.

You can send your proposal to

For more information, read the ILO communication here:

International Organisation of Industrial, Artisanal and
Service Producers' Cooperatives

Secretariat: C/O European Cooperative House - avenue Milcamps 105
1030 Brussels, Belgium
Tel: +32 2 543 1033, fax: +32 2 543 1037
E-mail: cicopa[at]

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