As Pierre Laliberté, an economist with the ILO's Bureau for Workers' Activities (ACTRAV), points out, "The relationship between trade unions and cooperatives is as long as the history of trade unions.
In fact, it is fair to say that the first associations of workers that emerged in Europe looked more like cooperatives than trade unions."
But things have changed over the years.
"Despite their common origins, joint history and common goals of fostering economic security and industrial democracy, we can say that in recent times genuine collaboration between trade unions and cooperatives has been rather limited," says Laliberté
, it may be time for the two sides to rediscover each other, adds Laliberté
maintains that workers and their organizations need to get a tangible sense that economic activity based on more ethical and democratic principles can be possible - and this, he
says, is just what cooperatives can do.
Laliberté of ILO ACTRAV calls for both movements to look again at the complementary roles which they can each play.
"Fortunately there is already a wealth of good practices out there to inform a proactive trade union agenda to engage with cooperatives," he