G7 Labour and Employment Ministers’ Declaration refers to cooperatives

News | 20 October 2017
Ministers of Labour and Employment of G7 countries met in Turin on 29 to 30 September to discuss pathways for action for a better future of work. The ILO Director-General Guy Ryder participated in the one and a half days of discussions with Ministers where a session on the ILO Global Commission on the Future of Work was also held.

Article 13 of the concluding declaration “For a Better Future of Work: Pathways for Action”, refers to cooperatives saying: “We take note of the voices heard from the world of cooperatives at the G7 of Cooperatives that took place in Milan”.

The side event organized by the Italian Cooperative Alliance
This Article is based on the conclusions from a side event concerning "Cooperation in digital work transformation: Innovation and resilience" organized on 29 September by the Italian Cooperatives Alliance comprising of three Italian cooperative confederations (Associazione Generale Cooperative Italiane , Confcooperative and Legacoop), in partnership with Italy’s Ministry of Labour and Social Policies. The event brought together close to 300 Italian co-operators to discuss what changes technological innovation will bring about in the world of work and how cooperatives can respond to them. The Minister of Labour and Social Policies, Giuliano Poletti was among the panellists. Prior to becoming a Minister in 2014, Mr Poletti was the President of the Legacoop and the Italian Cooperatives Alliance.

After the opening remark by Jean Louis Bancel, President of Cooperatives Europe, Prof Yochai Benkler from the Harvard University presented the report “Commons, Cooperation and Cooperativism in 21st Century Market Societies”. Then Maurizio Gardini, Co-President of the Italian Cooperatives Alliance made a presentation on the role of cooperatives in responding to the challenges raised by technological innovations. Main messages emerging from the meeting include:
  • Cooperatives are by nature socially and organizationally innovative as they are created to respond to the need of communities and to create quality jobs
  • Innovation needs to create employment
  • Some sectors including agriculture, trade and manufacturing will be more exposed to loss of jobs due to automation. Substantial investments in education and training in new technologies and digital literacy are therefore needed. The Alliance of Italian Cooperatives has invested € 31 million in training in 2016 which involved close to 100,000 workers.
  • New jobs in the gig economy are becoming more intermittent and precarious. They will require new forms of social security. Businesses will increasingly need to focus on employee involvement in enterprise management. Cooperative enterprises can offer models of the new governance and management arrangements are already widely tested and therefore replicable
  • Digitization of manufacturing processes is not only about Industry 4.0, but could also point toward Cooperation 4.0. We therefore call upon the Italian national plan “Industry 4.0” to be open not only to large companies but also to cooperatives

Reflecting on these messages, Minister Giuliano Poletti said: "Innovation-related transitions must be governed and not suffered. Cooperatives have the ability to promote economic and social responses to the challenges of change embedded in their DNA."

The event brought together lose to 300 co-operators
During the following thematic sessions, Prof Trebor Scholz from The New School and the founder of the concept of “platform cooprativism”, made a presentation in a session on “Precarious jobs and stable cooperation”: Prof Hernst Hafen from Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH Zurich) and the President of MIDATA, spoke at a session on “Autonomous cooperative management model of big data”.

In a session on “New technologies in cooperative chains”, Italian cooperative representatives proposed the following three projects to respond to social issues using new technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT).
  • Innovazione Welfare 4.0: Development of new diagnostic devices connected to the Internet to optimize home health care
  • Innovazione Agricoltura 4.0: Development of a big data management system to improve traceability of production processes and to optimize operations
  • Innovazione Lavoro 4.0: Development of new cooperatives to support precarious workers including artisans and computer workers
The details about these projects can be found at the website of the Italian Cooperatives Alliance.