Building integration

“Nor-Bum” is a worker cooperative which has been created by 7 construction workers in the city of La Plata in the province of Buenos Aires. When the company was established in 2011, its initial capital was all of the tools which each member was able to contribute to the company. Since then they have managed to use the surplus generated by the work they have carried out in order to buy some land on which they intend to build a workshop and storage area in which the building materials will be kept.

4 March 2016

“The cooperative was created in 2011 and although we had already been working for many years, the cooperative enabled us to work together, as a team; we share our tools, vehicles, etc. and we are certainly better off now than we were beforehand,” says Alfredo Puma Berrios, who is a member of the Nor-Bum cooperative.

The members of this worker cooperative set out to give it a name which reflects its main characteristics. Accordingly, “Nor” refers to the fact that all of the members originally come from the North of Bolivia and that they moved to Argentina in order to improve their employment prospects and economic situation, whilst “Bum” reflects the speed with which they carry out their work.

The cooperative provides the services which are typically provided by a general construction company, but it is also able to meet with specific requests, including those which may be made as part of tender for a public procurement contract. Over the course of the years they had already gained experience in negotiating contracts with trade unions, other construction companies and the private sector.

“The difficulties we encountered were mainly related to the work group, but we were able to overcome them thanks to the democratic system of assemblies and board meetings”, says Berrios Puma from the Nor-Bum cooperative. The current economic situation in Argentina means that the members of the cooperative are faced with a series of difficulties such as the increase in inflation and the constant rise in the price of materials, which then leads to the modification of budgets or of their profits.

“We hope to be able to keep our company going since, in some way, this enables us to safeguard the future of all of our partners and family who have been working in the construction sector for many years,” adds Alfredo.

The figures taken from the population census show that the age pyramid in Argentina has varied greatly over the course of history. Looking beyond our native population, immigration in our country underwent a transformation at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century, when there began to be fewer immigrants from overseas and an increasing number from neighbouring countries or Peru.

In an interview given to an Argentinian newspaper, Enrique Peláez, a demographer at CONICET (National Council for Scientific and Technical Research) pointed out that this meant that “immigration into Argentina came mostly from Bolivia, Paraguay and Peru, following the arrival of a significant number of immigrants from Chile and Uruguay, which has declined in recent years.

The figures generated by the 2010 census, which are available for 10 countries, show that the number of immigrants from Latin America is now more than 4 million and that Argentina has the highest number with 1.5 million immigrants, followed by Venezuela with 850,000 and Costa Rica with 350,000.

Source: Telam and the FECOOTRAcommunication department

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
E-mail: cicopa[at]

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