Cooperatives are responsible for almost 10% of world employment, new study shows
CICOPA published its second global report on “Cooperatives and Employment”. Based on data from 156 countries, the updated estimate shows that employment in or within the scope of cooperatives concerns at least 279.4 million people across the globe, in other words 9.46% of the world’s employed population.
For Bruno Roelants, Secretary General of CICOPA: "Employment is one of the most important contributions made by cooperatives throughout the world. This report shows that people involved in cooperatives constitute a sufficiently high percentage to be considered as a major actor in the ’United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’, as well as in the worldwide debate on the ’Future of Work’ launched by the International Labour Organization. In addition, the intent of the study is to improve the methodology and the quality level of cooperative statistics. This is particularly timely, as the next International Congress of Labour Statisticians will take place in 2018. The public authorities and the cooperative movement itself should pay particular attention to this forthcoming event.”
Turning to qualitative aspects, the report also examines cooperatives’ specific contributions to addressing problems related to work and employment in the informal economy:
People working in the informal economy who join savings and credit cooperatives, mutual insurance cooperatives, multi-purpose cooperatives and consumer cooperatives have an easier access to credit, education and training, affordable goods and services to meet their basic needs and a certain level of social protection based on solidarity and mutual help.
Self-employed producers and entrepreneurs who join shared service cooperatives gain access to various services which help them to attain economies of scale and a higher bargaining power.
For the self-employed workers and freelancers who have considerably increased in number over the last decades, cooperatives could be used by trade unions or member based organisations as a tool to organize them, but could also provide innovative models which could guarantee both flexibility and protection.
Worker cooperatives, which aim at providing decent jobs to their worker-members, can be a direct solution to the formalization of informal employment.
However, to fully display the potential contributions of the cooperatives, “a favourable environment and an appropriate legal framework are necessary” and “the cooperative model should be better explained to trade unions, member-based organisations, NGOs and local governments”, concludes the report.