21st Century: Workers' Control in the Present

An Alternative Labour History Worker Control and Workplace Democracy

The global financial crisis has led to a new shop-floor militancy. Radical forms of protest and new workers’ takeovers have sprung up all over the globe. In the US, Republic Windows and Doors started production under worker control in January 2013.

Take back the factory: worker control in the current crisis

During the first decade of the current century, factory occupations and production under workers’ control seemed to be limited mainly to South America, with a few exceptions in Asia. It was beyond the imagination of most workers and scholars in industrialized countries that workers would or could occupy their companies and run them on their own. Nevertheless, the crisis that started in 2008 put workers’ control back on the agenda in the northern hemisphere. In the course of the current crisis, factory occupations occurred throughout Europe, especially in France, Italy and Spain, but also in other countries, including Switzerland and Germany, and in the US and Canada. read more »

Workers' control at Fralib: the brand with the Elephant

In France there are two cases of recuperated factories occupied by workers during the current crisis. One is the Pilpa Ice Cream Factory, which just started producing organic ice cream and yoghurt as a worker-owned and administered company after a long-lasting struggle. The other is the Fralib Tea Factory. Both were closed by their huge multinational owners to relocate production. read more »

May Day: workers of the world unite and take over - their factories

The liberal UK newspaper, the Guardian - in a special article for May Day 2015 - has recognised "the fast-developing phenomenon" of fabricas recuperadas  that around 15,000 workers in more than 300 workplaces have taken over following attempted closure by capital.  Examples in France,Spain, Greece, Argentina and Turkey many detailed on this site are discussed.  This site, along with autogestion.coop and the Marseille meeting, get a mention on the online version although not in the print.    read more »

Workers' "Caravan of Struggle and Solidarity" to Athens

Workers’ movements and their supporters from throughout Greece have embarked on a caravan to speak with, and demand from, the new SYRIZA government. They are asking for concrete support for their struggles, each of which is based on self-organization and horizontality. Saturday April 4th marked the first day of a caravan, which will travel to various towns throughout Greece, meeting with and gathering other workers in struggle in each location, who will then all make their way to Athens. read more »

Vth International Gathering “The Workers’ Economy”

Call for Participation

I. Background

Since 2007, the International Gathering of “The Workers’ Economy” (Encuentro Internacional de “La Economía de los Trabajadores-Trabajadoras”) has taken place every two years. The gatherings have opened up a space for debate and dialogue between workers, social and political activists, academics, and intellectuals concerning the problems and potential of what we have termed “the workers’ economy”—based on self-management and the defence of the rights and interests of the population that lives by their work, within the rubric of today’s conjuncture of global neoliberal capitalism. read more »

The Take

Click on the CC button (bottom right) to enable the English subtitles.

The Take is a Canadian documentary film released in 2004 by Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis. It tells the story of workers in Buenos Aires, Argentina who reclaim control of a closed Forja auto plant where they once worked and turn it into a worker cooperative.

Summary

The plant closed as a result of the economic policies of the Carlos Menem government under the watchful eye of the International Monetary Fund. read more »

Occupy, Resist, Produce - RiMaflow

In February 2013 former Maflow workers occupied the plant, together with precarious workers and workers from a nearby factory, which had been shut down after fraudulent bankruptcy. The 20 workers participating full time in the project completely reinvented themselves and the factory. They started recycling computers and electronic household devices, opened a bar and cafeteria, organize a flea market and cultural activities with the community, and have built alliances with local organic agricultural producers and together they have created a group for solidarity shopping. They plan to transform the factory into a plant for industrial recycling. read more »

Marx’s Critique of Socialist Labor-Money Schemes and the Myth of Council Communism’s Proudhonism

Some left theorists have claimed that the council communist tradition actually advocated a self-managed capitalist economy, rather than a truly communist one. This essay aims to expose and dismantle that myth by examining some writings of council communists, particularly those of the Dutch Group of International Communists and Anton Pannekoek, and comparing them with Karl Marx’s own writings on post-capitalist labor-time accounting. Through this process, I hope to show that the myth about council communism is fundamentally based on a misrepresentation of Marx’s stance on these issues. read more »

Workers’ Self-management, Recovered Companies and the Sociology of Work

We analyse how far Argentina’s worker-recovered companies (WRCs) have sustained themselves and their principles of equity and workers’ self-management since becoming widespread following the country’s 2001–2 economic crisis. We find that the number of WRCs has increased in Argentina, and that they represent a viable production model. Further, they have generally maintained their central principles and even flourished. This occurred despite the global economic crisis, legal and financial pressures to adopt capitalist practices and management structures, the risk of market absorption and state attempts to coopt, demobilise and depoliticise the movement.
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