Worker co-operatives: Tamil Nadu Labour Union leads the way
Increasingly experts are questioning the role of aid in the reduction of poverty. Some are even suggesting that at times it might contribute to the problem. So what development programmes should we support?
The United Nations has claimed that co-operatives not only achieve the common goals of their members but also promote “poverty reduction, employment creation, empowerment of women and food security…” . Accordingly, they have declared next year as the International Year of Co-operatives.
So the Tamil Nadu Labour Union (TLU) is way ahead of the play. The focus of their work to date has been on participatory development, where Dalit (untouchable) and Tribal (indigenous) people are brought together so they can collectively identify their priorities and develop strategies to improve their lives. This first step has seen communities of more than 30,000 of the poorest and most oppressed people benefit from their union bargaining power. Building on this collective strength UnionAID is now funding a TLU project to set up five workers’ cooperatives. These will provide members with marketing and organisational skills to set them on a sustainable path to economic independence.