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ILO Cooperative Branch (EMP/COOP). Partnership with cooperatives to combat child labour

“Cooperating out of child labour” is the initiative of ILO Cooperative Branch (EMP/COOP) and the International Programme for the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) to partner with the Cooperative Movement to tackle the issue of child labour around the world.

A report will be issues later this year identifying the changes to cooperatives as well as some current good practice that ensures that cooperative supply and production chains are child labour free. The report further suggests some ways for cooperatives to more effectively address the issue. It underlines the act that the Cooperative Movement, guided by its values and principles and commitment to combat poverty, and encouraged by the market which increasingly awards economic success to business with ethical practices, is ready to take a stand.

EMP/COOP and IPEC have also jointly produced a fact sheet highlighting the issue of cooperatives and child labour for World Day for Action against Child Labour to be celebrated on 12 June.

Although much work remains to be done to enable the 218 million boys and girls currently under the age of 18 who are victim of child labour, the initiative aims at engaging cooperatives as socially responsible enterprises.

The an effort to take this initiative forward, the Cooperative Branch and IPEC have partnered with the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) to take the initiative forward.

Invisible to some, significant to millions!

Many underestimate the size of cooperatives, their membership and the jobs that they have created and maintained. Did you know that:

• Cooperatives provide jobs to over 100 million people worldwide, 20% more than multinational
enterprises.

• There are more than 800 million members of cooperatives.

• The 300 largest cooperatives have a turnover similar to the GDP of Canada.

• 1 in 4 people are members of cooperatives in the United States; 1 in 5 in Kenya and Malaysia; 1 family
in 3 in Japan, and 1 in 2 people in Singapore.

• Cooperatives in New Zealand are responsible for 22% of the GDP; in Brazil 16% and Vietnam nearly
9%.

• In Switzerland, a consumer cooperative is the largest employer outside the public sector, while in
Colombia it is a health cooperative.

• Cooperatives hold high market shares: 99% of milk production in Norway; 90% in Uruguay and 75% in Poland.

Cooperatives are improving livelihoods in all of the countries mentioned, plus many more!

“Cooperatives provide more than 100 million jobs worldwide”

Source: ILO EMP/COOP News, No.1, June 2007