France

The Commune: Paris 1871

We can now examine the Paris Commune in a new light - in the light precisely of the rich experience of Bolshevism and of Trotskyism. We mean, more specifically, in the light of their failure. Stated more concretely, the proletarian revolution of 1871 must now be re-evaluated in the light of the degeneration of the Russian Revolution and of the positive lessons of the revolutionary struggle of the Hungarian Workers' Councils in 1956 against a bureaucratic society in which the means of production were completely 'nationalised'. read more »

Los Fralibos - A song by and for the workers of Fralib

"Thé de l'Eléphant was born in Provence, it must stay in Provence"

The workers of Fralib (the Elephant Tea) in Géménos spent 1336 days of struggle against Unilever, the giant multinational behind the Lipton brand. Their collective strength finally managed to make the multinational cave in, and thus SCOPTI coop was born. Their struggle is recounted here by the workers themselves, in French, to the rhythm of the Los Fralibos protest song. 

A Factory Occupation in May 1968

Now that everything is back to “normal,” it may not seem very interesting to recall the very different sort of normality that briefly prevailed at the end of last spring. Moreover, what happened at this particular factory (Jeumont-Schneider) was not all that different from what was happening elsewhere, which everyone is already familiar with. Nevertheless, looking into the tarnished mirror of the past may help us to better understand ourselves. read more »

Recuperating Work and Life

As the economic crisis deepens and governments—instead of providing support—respond with more austerity, people throughout the world are not only resisting but increasingly creating their own solutions in multiple spheres of life. Work is an especially difficult area around which to organize if the government refuses to aid the unemployed or underemployed, and yet it is also one where some of the most innovative solutions are arising. read more »

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 »

Victory for the Fralib Workers. A New Chapter Begins.

After a three and a half year battle, an agreement has been signed between Unilever and the Fralib employees. This agreement provides for a 20 million euro financial contribution from Unilever for damages caused by the decision to close the tea and herbal infusion factory. The tea and herbal infusions cooperative can be set up and quality production on the site can restart.
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International Gathering of “The Workers’ Economy”

Friday, January 31 and Saturday February 1, 2014
International Gathering of “The Workers’ Economy”
First Regional Gathering of Europe and the Mediterranean
Held in the worker-occupied Factory Fralib
Gemenos, Bocas del Ródano, France

Organizers: Organizing committee of the “International Gathering of the Workers’ Economy”; Programa Facultad Abierta, University of Buenos Aires (Argentina). With the collaboration of ASPAS (Association of Solidarity with South America of Provence).
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After factory shutdown, Italian workers ‘recycle’ jobs

A group of Italian factory workers who lost their jobs at an auto component maker due to the recession, have taken over their disused factory near Milan and are planning to set up a recycling business as they struggle for dignity.
“We were considered rejects in society and we recycled ourselves,” said Gigi Malabarba, an unemployed man who has joined the initiative. read more »

Worker Direct Action Grows in Global North in Wake of Financial Meltdown

The traditional path of labor-management collective bargaining has taken a dramatic turn in an era in which unions are too weak or timid to take action even as joblessness grows and companies losing financing are forced into bankruptcy by their creditors. As plants close and layoffs grow—and as workers recognize they can no longer interrupt the workflow with a strike when there is no flow to be interrupted—they are engaging in militant action to save their jobs and livelihoods. read more »