Where plants are closed down, worker cooperatives reopen them. Out of 16,000 cooperatives in Argentina, half of them are worker cooperatives. They created 300,000 jobs and account for 10% of the gross domestic product (GDP). Out of some 40 million inhabitants in this South-American country, 10 million are linked directly or indirectly to cooperatives and mutual societies.
These data unveil that the challenge for worker cooperative is to enhance their visibility as a sector. Many citizens consume products and/or services of cooperatives without being aware. With this in mind, the president of the Federation of Worker Cooperatives (FECOOTRA), José Orbaiceta, made clear: “a new map of the social economy is taking shape. Worker cooperatives emerge as a new political, economic and social reality. They are making their own voice heard, the workers’ voice in the constellation of the social economy”.
Some of the achievements are the following: to revamp CICOPA-Americas, to create a National Confederation of Worker Cooperatives (CNCT), to weave networks of joint management, to reopen plants, to set up worker cooperatives of young professionals in the various sectors (communication, free software, graphic design, financial, accounting and legal services). Managing social inclusion programs at State level has also been possible. One example is the program ‘Argentina Trabaja’ (‘Argentina works’) which in its first phase has succeeded in rescuing the jobs of 1,984 unemployed workers through the creation of worker cooperatives.
Worker cooperatives mean to recover jobs with dignity, i.e. meeting the economic needs and enhance the persons who become genuinely actors, giving greater importance to the member worker members than to capital. The challenge is to ensure that this means be sustainable and worker cooperatives in Argentina are heading toward this objective.
International Organisation of Industrial, Artisanal and
Service Producers' Cooperatives
Secretariat: C/O European Cooperative House - avenue Milcamps 105
1030 Brussels, Belgium
Tel: +32 2 543 1033, fax: +32 2 543 1037