Elizabeth Nzilani Peter represented the Machakos Cooperative Union at the 105th International Labour Conference in Geneva, where the theme was Building a Future with Decent Work. Attended by Over 6,000 delegates, the conference was an opportunity to highlight the contribution made by co-operatives to decent work. The following is an interview with Elizabeth :
Would you introduce yourself and explain what brought you to the International Labour Conference 2016?
My name is Elizabeth Nzilani Peter from Kenya. I work in a coffee cooperative in Kenya, Machakos Cooperative Union Ltd. I am at the ILC representing Homeworkers’ Working Group in Africa (which includes workers from Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and South Africa) under WIEGO (Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing) promoting decent work in the global supply chains through recognition and visibility of homeworkers.
How do you see the role of the secondary cooperative organizations in the global supply chains? How can these organizations promote the achievement of decent work in global supply chains?
Cooperatives are key in the global supply chains, as they form part of the organization, elimination of middlemen to increase efficiency and benefits to their members. They can promote decent work because they integrate their values and principles into the supply chain and not just reap the economic benefits. They offer decent employment and jobs, and enable the farmers to access market information, technology and finances.
Would you talk about your experience at the ILC? What discussions are you following? What do you expect out of your participation in these discussions?
I am following the decent work in the Global Supply Chains discussion. This being my first time attending the ILC my experience has been eye-opening. I was able to see issues in a different perspective especially on the global supply chains. “It’s not business as usual”, as the Government speaker from Kenya stated in the Workers Group meeting.
My expectation out of this discussion is recognition and visibility of the homeworkers and support from trade unions and governments. Recognition of cooperatives’ role in the global supply chains is key as they improve returns to their members and improve labour conditions.