Businesses unite to achieve more and push for decent and fair working conditions. The Red Textil Cooperativa (Cooperative Textile Network, in English) is a network of cooperatives encompassing the whole of the textile production chain in Argentina: from small cotton producing cooperatives in Chaco to manufacturers of thread and fabric, fabric dyers, cutters, designers and dressmakers throughout the country.
The network is now making its own mark on the industry. Over 50 cooperatives have joined, seeing the initiative as a means of guaranteeing themselves a fairer and more decent way of working, in stark contrast to the high levels of job insecurity that prevail in the sector. The network has also created an atmosphere of social integration for those who have been excluded from the traditional labour market. There are cooperatives of transsexual workers, workers with HIV, and (in the case of Kbrones and Elefante Negro) cooperatives operated by prison inmates.This strategic project encapsulates and brings together the whole of the textile industry chain: from sewing the cotton seeds in Chaco through to the production of diverse materials used in the industrial and design sectors. Ultimately, the goal is to reach a level of large scale production to compete with one of the biggest threats textile cooperatives have had to face: the predominance of imports in the industry. As such, the Department for Social Economy (part of Argentina’s Ministry of Social Development) has subsidised the purchase of supplies, giving a boost to 10 thousand teams of textile workers.
Textiles for tots
The Red Textil Cooperativa has taken on the production and marketing of official merchandising for Argentina’s children’s cable TV channel, Paka Paka. The project is called Jugar (from Juguetes Argentinos, or Argentinian Puppets, in English) and gives the network the right to use the image of their well-known character, Zamba.
Twelve cooperatives from the textile network now have permission to use the Zamba image: production of t-shirts and dolls based on the character has already started. For Joaquín Sancha, the model agreed by Red Textil Cooperativa is an important achievement for the cooperative movement: "These types of agreements show we have the ability to produce first rate products and compete in the marketplace. Paka Paka is up against Disney, the Zamba project is more representative of our ideology. We agree with educating as many children as possible through a character who talks about our own history and national identity".