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Guy Ryder (ILO): “the survival rate of worker cooperatives in several countries appears to equal or surpass that of conventional firms"

10 May 2013 [ English ] français ]

Guy Ryder, General Director of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), highlighted the role of worker cooperatives in resisting the crisis at the Opening of the conference “Potential and limits of Social and Solidarity Economy”. The event was organized jointly by the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) and the ILO from 6 to 8 May 2013 in Geneva.

Ryder emphasized that worker cooperatives “are seeing growth as people choose that option in order to respond to new economic realities” (…) and that “the survival rate of worker cooperatives in several countries appears to equal or surpass that of conventional firms”. Ryder referred to his recent meeting with the International Cooperative Alliance president, Dame Pauline Green, focusing on “four critical areas for joint action: the economic crisis, youth employment, the informal economy and rural employment”. Regarding the second area mentioned, the social and solidarity economy can be a key building block for a jobs-oriented recovery strategy. In Europe, for example, the social and solidarity economy provides paid employment to over 14.5 million people, about 6.5 % of total European paid employment.

He explained that the conclusions of the International Labour Conference 2012 “highlighted the importance of cooperatives and social economy enterprises for tackling the youth employment crisis”. Guy Ryder also underlined that the importance of the social economy “can be a bridge for workers and enterprises to get out of informality. Many cooperatives start as informal group enterprises and later, as they grow and become viable business enterprises, they are registered. As legal entities, they become part of the formal economy”.

In the framework of this conference, the documentary Together: How cooperatives show resilience to the crisis, produced by CECOP – CICOPA Europe, was also screened, followed by an enriching debate conducted by Simel Esim and Rafael Peels from the ILO Cooperative Branch and Claudia Sánchez Bajo, Lecturer at Pavia University and Incoming Chair, Cooperative Enterprises at the University of Winnipeg.

You can read the full speech here