The new political and socioeconomic context of MERCOSUR highlights the role of the Social and Solidarity Economy as an alternative to boost job opportunities and employment inclusion of extensive social sectors in the region. The worker cooperatives block not only have influenced the construction of this new reality in every Mercosur country, but also they have taken a major leap to be a forum for political, social, economic and cultural heritage expression, called Red del Sur (Southern Network).
This network, established in 2007 by several organisations representing worker cooperatives of the region, is formed by the Producers’ Cooperatives Federation of Uruguay (FCPU), the Regional Union of Cooperatives and Solidarity Enterprises of Brazil (UNISOL), the National Confederation of Worker Cooperatives (CNCT) from Argentina (in which we should emphasize the role of FECOOTRA, FACTA and Metalworker Cooperatives Network), and the Paraguayan Cooperatives Confederation (CONPACOOP).
Political representation of worker cooperatives before national and local government agencies and MERCOSUR agencies, as well as development of a common regional identity by integrating knowledge, values, and professional trajectories are the main objectives of this network. Moreover, Red del Sur also aims to gain a bigger position for the social economy in regional economy, especially for worker cooperatives through the development of economic networks between cooperatives, strengthening workers’ cooperatives in strategic areas.
Red del Sur has been able to realize its potential thanks to the support of several development organizations that have been strategic to strengthen the sector, including most notably Cooperazione per lo Sviluppo dei Paesi Emergenti (COSPE, Italy), the Cooperation and Research Foundation CIDEAL (CIDEAL, Spain), Istituto Sindacale per la Cooperazione e lo Sviluppo (ISCOS Nazionale and ISCOS ER, Italy) and Nexus (Italy).
The network’s role at MERCOSUR level was essential in the adoption by the European Union of a support project to this regional cooperative process called Promoting worker cooperatives and strengthening networks of Mercosur Social Economy Enterprises as a strategy for fighting poverty and building a more democratic and sustainable society.
The project, launched in April 2010, allows for the implementation of strategies aimed to the strengthen the participation of regional companies in the market; to develop initiatives between cooperatives creating production chains; and to combine tools to promote public policies and social development programs. All these lines are crucial to promote social and solidary enterprises as a strategy to encourage a more human and sustainable development model.
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