ILO’s participation in a public seminar on economic democracy and worker cooperatives in Ireland

ILO participates in a dialogue with trade unions, cooperatives and academics in Ireland and the UK on the potential of worker cooperatives in advancing economic democracy and decent work in the context of the future of work.

News | 09 April 2019
On 9 April 2019, a public seminar on “Economic democracy and worker cooperatives: The case for Ireland” was organized in Dublin, Ireland by the Society for Co-operative Studies in Ireland (SCSI) in association with the Services, Industrial, Professional and Technical Union (SIPTU). Sponsored by the Co-operative Housing Ireland (CHI), the Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU), the Irish Co-operative Organisation Society (ICOS), the Centre for Cooperative Studies (CCS) at the University College Cork, and Unite the Union, the seminar aimed at discussing the role that worker cooperatives can play in addressing shared needs across a range of contexts such as youth employment, business succession and as a response to the gig-economy in the context of the future of work debate. It also focused on how trade unions could partner with cooperatives in addressing such needs.

A panel session
ILO’s Cooperatives Unit Manager Simel Esim participated in the seminar as a speaker along with representatives from the sponsor organizations and practitioners from British and Irish worker cooperatives. She presented at a session on “Economic democracy, trade unions and worker cooperatives” regarding the challenges and opportunities in the changing world of work and emerging responses by worker cooperatives to address these challenges and advance decent work.

In her presentation Ms Simel Esim highlighted the historical fact that the trade unions have used the cooperative model to advance workers’ rights and welfare and current examples of dual strategy of unionism and cooperativism like the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) in India. She also shared findings from an ILO survey with trade unions in 109 countries. Among the unions, 85 per cent stated that it was important for them to work with cooperatives to improve workers’ livelihoods, and more than two thirds were interested in providing health care, financial services or consumer and retailing services for their members.