ILO COOP 100 Symposium - Session 7: Historical Accounts of Cooperatives Development

The seventh session of the two-day symposium focused on historical accounts of cooperative development and was chaired by Marieke Louis.

The first speaker of the session, Mr. Leandro Morais, presented a paper on “Centennial celebration of ILO COOP and its relevant contributions to the Social and Solidarity Economy”. He reflected on the key contributions of the ILO to SSE via its international labour standards over the years. He further noted the economic, social and environmental issues within SSE. He underlined the value of the Cooperatives Unit of the ILO ILO COOP and the tools it provides. He noted that after COVID-19, SSE can be one of many tools used to help generate work and income.

The second paper by Simon Godard and Amélie Artis on “Historical Perspectives on Concepts, Practices, and Policies of Cooperative Education” focused on three emblematic periods and three main factors to understand cooperative education. Historically cooperative education was a means to bridge the gap between membership and emancipation. The two speakers went through a timeline to show the need for cooperative education – focusing on consumer cooperatives. They also reflected on the confrontation of ideologies and economic choices. They noted that cooperative education was disseminated through the press and books and not in the classroom, a controlled environment. They concluded with a suggestion to add the input of ILO’s own cooperative archives, to transnationally circulate a cooperative education model and standardize cooperative knowledge internationally.

The third paper of the session was presented by Daniel Francisco Nagao Menez focusing on the “Evolution of the Legal Framework of Brazilian Agricultural Cooperativism”. Dr. Nagao presented the evolution of the legal framework on Brazilian agricultural cooperatives. He went through a timeline, the role the State plays in the development of agricultural cooperatives. He explained the various laws that were put in place. He emphasized the continued link between cooperatives and governments throughout the years.

In the question and answer session, questions were posed on:

Question: Can cooperatives be a path to formalization in relation to social protection?
Answer: ILO Recommendation 204 Transition from the Informal to the Formal Economy Recommendation

Question: What is the best way to tackle inequality of wages within cooperatives?
Answer: There are differences in these practices between different sectors, and sizes of cooperatives.

Question: Can the Brazilian cooperative movement be an example or a model for other countries in the world?
Answer: There are cooperatives that are popular movement based and smaller. Others, for instance in agriculture bigger and more state dependent.