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The social economy and trade unions

Date Released: 27 August 2013

The social economy in Ireland employs over 50,000 people and it has the potential to create thousands more jobs. Yet, it remains a source of concern for many trade unionists, who see in its development threats of outsourcing, or undercutting wages and conditions across the wider economy. But the social economy contains no such threat and involves, instead, the generation of local economic activity and the delivery of community-based services and job opportunities.

It is time trade unionists took a new look at the social economy and learned how it can help deliver local jobs and growth – which they can do on a special seminar on the social economy organised by Congress for 19th September. Full details below. 

Trade Unions and Social Enterprise

Social enterprises are companies that operate on a commercial basis but with the purpose of returning both profit and benefits to the local community – the social dividend. They are not-for-profit companies (with all earnings re-invested), governed by voluntary boards and often with trade union involvement (e.g. local partnership companies and Congress Centres).

There are thousands of social enterprises in Ireland today, from local development groups to enterprise centres and companies providing tourism and childcare services. Many were started with trade union support. Community self-help has a long tradition in Ireland, reflected in the role at local level of organisations such as the GAA and the credit union movement.

Trade unionists have often played an important role in helping get local social enterprises and services off the ground. 

Congress seminar

This is an opportunity for trade unionists to become leaders in their communities in helping generating jobs and services through the local social economy. Congress is working with union federations across Europe to strengthen the union role in the social economy.

The free seminar takes place on Thursday, 19th September, with experts from the social enterprise sector with the aim of developing a programme for practical trade union action in building the sector. Places are strictly limited. For more information and to book your place at this event, http://www.ictu.ie/press/diary/2013/09/19/social-economy-a-trade-union-concern/.


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