ILO Conference Conclusions Recognise Role of Cooperatives in Advancing Decent Work in the Care Economy

18 June 2024

The 112th International Labour Conference (ILC) of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) was held between 3-14 June 2024. One of the key topics discussed at the Conference was decent work and the care economy.  

CICOPA, on behalf of the International Cooperative Alliance, took part in the Conference to raise awareness about the cooperative model in the care sector. Cooperatives have been emerging as innovative and quality providers of care. In fact, care cooperatives provide a solution to many of the challenges of the care sector, particularly at the local level, such as lack of public care services, lack of quality care for recipients, and poor working conditions for care providers. At the ILC, CICOPA underlined that care cooperatives have a time-tested answer to the challenges in the sector: they provide quality work to caregivers, and ensure quality, affordable and uninterrupted care even to the most disadvantaged persons. Our full statement on care cooperatives as key partners for the provision of care services can be found here 

Following the International Labour Conference, the ILO published its Conclusions concerning decent work and the care economy. CICOPA welcomes the thorough definition of the care economy, which points out the variety of services within the sector, and the diversity of providers, including cooperatives and social and solidarity economy (SSE) entities. The Conclusions also highlight the challenges in the sector, such as the undervaluation of care work, which disproportionately affect women, who are overrepresented particularly in the informal economy.  

Furthermore, CICOPA welcomes the recognition of cooperatives and the broader social and solidarity economy in the provision of quality care. In particular, as part of the guiding principles, the document mentions the role of cooperatives and other SSE entities in providing quality care, investing in sustainable and modern care infrastructure, and providing training and employment opportunities. In addition, the guiding principles highlight the importance of investing in the care economy to promote quality care and decent job creation, well-designed care leave policies, and building public-private partnerships, amongst others. 

The conclusions also provide suggestions on how to advance decent work in the care economy, recommending the implementation of integrated and coherent care policies, addressing the undervaluation of care work and the unequal gender distribution of paid and unpaid work, and investing in quality, affordable and accessible care services. This section also highlights the importance of creating a conducive environment for SSE entities and that “MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) and SSE entities, including cooperatives and other community-led initiatives that deliver quality care services” should be supported by governments and employers’ and workers’ organisations, particularly via capacity-building, skills development and access to finance. The document also calls on the ILO to provide technical assistance to promote the effective protection of workers in cooperatives and other SSE entities. 

As a next step, the Director-General of the ILO is requested to prepare a plan of action on decent work and the care economy for consideration of the Governing Body at its 352nd Session in October-November 2024, communicate the conclusions to relevant international and regional organization, and take into account the conclusions when preparing future programme and budget proposals and mobilizing extra-budgetary resources. 

The ILO Conclusions can be accessed here.