ILO COOP/SSE participates in the Strategic Workshop “Toward an action plan to eliminate child labour and to promote decent work in solid waste management systems in Mexico”

Head of ILO’s COOP/SSE Unit highlighted the role that cooperatives play for informal waste-pickers to access social protection, generate negotiation power with public and private stakeholders and to formalize their work.

News | 28 May 2021
The ILO Country Office for Mexico and Cuba , the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and the ILO Child Labour Platform organized the strategic workshop “Toward an action plan to eliminate child labour and promote decent work in solid waste management systems in Mexico” on 12 May 2021. The main objective of the event was to facilitate an informed dialogue on the elimination of child labour and the promotion of decent work in solid waste management systems in Mexico City. The online event was attended by more than 70 participants, including representatives from the government, workers and employers organizations, private companies, UN agencies, NGOs and civil society organizations, among others.

The event started with a presentation of a supply chain analysis and stakeholder mapping of the recycling supply chain in Mexico City. The study included an introduction on child labour and the recycling sector, a mapping of actors and a diagnosis on child labour in recycling supply chain in Mexico City. The study also provided a series of recommendations for the different actors involved to join forces and to strengthen coordination toward tackling child labour and improving working conditions of informal workers in the sector. The presentation of the study was followed by a series of interventions from participants with their observations on the key findings of the study and the priorities they would propose to make progress. During the meeting, all key stakeholders, most significantly the Mexican Government, agreed to continue the dialogue toward the development and implementation of an action plan to address child labour in the sector.

Simel Esim, the Head of ILO’s Cooperatives Unit highlighted the key role of cooperatives in the formalization of informal workers and mentioned that waste-pickers cooperatives are already well established in Latin American countries such as Argentina, Brazil, and Colombia. She referred to the ILO/WEIGO report “Cooperation among workers in the informal economy: A focus on home-based workers and waste pickers” which revealed that informal workers establish or become members of cooperatives to be able to: strengthen their collective voice and representation in policy-making processes; formalize their roles as recyclers so they are recognized as public service providers; and facilitate access social protection and other services such as finance, housing, childcare and children’s education, among others.

She also emphasized that cooperatives could play an important role in the elimination of child labour through collective action toward improving livelihoods of the parents so they avoid using child labour; improving occupational safety and health, innovating new ways of working by joining human and financial resources of members in providing support for child care and children’s education and raising awareness on child labour among members and communities. She also mentioned that cooperatives could represent an opportunity for young people, not only in terms of employment opportunities, but also in providing them with different skills in advocacy, accounting and management, allowing them to have better opportunities in the recycling supply chain without engaging in hazardous child labour.

She concluded by reiterating the support from the ILO and its Cooperatives Unit toward the development of cooperatives in the recycling sector in Mexico. The ILO has a great deal on research documenting cooperative use by waste-pickers and strong ties with cooperatives and other social enterprises of waste pickers in the region and globally that could be useful to set the basis for interventions and knowledge exchanges. The ILO has also various capacity building tools on cooperative development and awareness raising tools for cooperatives on the elimination of child labour. She finalized by commenting on the current support on cooperatives that the ILO is providing in Mexico, including the institutionalization of the ILO capacity building tools in collaboration with the National Institute of Social Economy, which will have a module on green cooperatives; support to the Secretariat of Labour and Employment Promotion of Mexico City in the development of a training guide for cooperatives on effective management; and the compilation of successful case studies on green cooperative practices in the Americas and the Caribbean.