COOPERATIVES AND THE WORLD OF WORK No. 2 - Cooperating out of isolation: Domestic workers' cooperative
Research reports, working paper
Cooperative enterprises can provide a practical and relevant model for domestic workers to improve their livelihoods and conditions of work. They can offer domestic workers a collective voice to advocate for their rights with employers and policy makers.
There are now a number of well-established experiences of domestic workers organizing themselves through cooperative enterprises, particularly in the home care sector. Cooperatives can provide a way out of precarious and informal working arrangements, which can be a feature of working life for many migrant workers.
They can offer access to key service needed by domestic workers, including training and education, housing, and financial services as well as care services for their own families. There are experiences of trade unions helping to establish cooperatives for their members in the provision of such services.
In case of cooperatives providing employment services, the ownership of the workers as members as well as their democratic participation in decision-making processes are critical in ensuring that they are not co-opted into pseudo-cooperatives, as has been the experience with businesses inaccurately called worker cooperatives in some countries.
The International Co-operative Alliance has established the following seven internationally agreed Cooperative Principles:
- Voluntary and open membership
- Democratic member control
- Member economic participation
- Autonomy and independence
- Education, training and information
- Cooperation among cooperatives
- Concern for community