Latin America

Heart of the Factory / Corazón de Fábrica

In a poor country looted by its own governments and businessmen, the workers of Zanon Ceramic take the factory in their own hands when the owner closes it. They start to produce ceramics again, but without bosses. Now, they feel free. They’ve found in their work a way to grow humanly. But at the same time, they have to assume a series of responsibilities and challenges. Usually, this provokes serious arguments among them or with themselves. During that process, the workers had to study and to overcome themselves in order to solve all the problems linked to the areas of production. Through the democratic assembly, they found a way to support their organisation and learn how to take their own decisions in the management. 

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Workers’ Factory Takeovers and the 'Programme for Self-Managed Work'

In the last decade many Argentine enterprises became bankrupt, inspiring thousands of workers to take them over and resume production by forming cooperatives. In 2004, the Programme for Self-Managed Work became the instrument by which the government ‘institutionalised’ the takeovers, de- politicising the radical aspects of workers’ actions in exchange for financial and technical assistance in pursuit of workers’ objectives of job preservation and self-managed work.

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OCCUPY, RESIST AND POSE FOR THE CAMERA

Nationalisations, bailouts, economic stimulus... much has been written about these and other recent events by the corporate media in the Global North and this so-called new wave of “socialism.” Fortunately many have responded that these events are all about saving a failing neoliberal model as opposed to building any alternative. read more »

Venezuela: Class Struggle Heats Up Over Battle for Workers’ Control

On July 22, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez again declared his complete support for the proposal by industrial workers for a new model of production based on workers’ control. This push from Chavez, part of the socialist revolution, aims at transforming Venezuela’s basic industry. However, it faces resistance from within the state bureaucracy and the revolutionary movement. 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

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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 »

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.

Argentina’s recuperated workplaces

During the 1990s and in the immediate aftermath of Argentina’s economic meltdown in 2001-2002, the country witnessed an unprecedented formation of heterogeneous social movements such as newly founded trade unions, the unemployed workers’ movement, neighbourhood assemblies, garbage collectors, swap shops and recuperated workplaces. While most initiatives quickly disappeared during Argentina’s economic recovery in the years following the crisis, occupied and recuperated enterprises successfully emerged as the strongest and most organised form of popular protest. The workers’ longstanding struggle for the recuperation of the means of production, in part, radically altered existing forms of representation and participation within the workplace. read more »

Hotel Bauen and workplace recuperation in Argentina

One of the most emblematic of the over 350 recuperated workplaces1 in Argentina is the Hotel Bauen. Located down the street from the Congressional building and close to the Pink House, Hotel Bauen is seen by all and visited by tens of thousands a year. read more »

Book Review: "Ours to Master and to Own: Workers’ Control from the Commune to the Present"

Ours to Master and to Own is a compilation of articles offering a historical and global overview of workers’ efforts to gain control over their workplaces, the economy, and governance. It is wonderfully organized in both a chronological and thematic logic, from the nineteenth century through the early twenty-first century, while also moving from a general historical overview toward more specific explanations of how worker democracy was implemented and fought in particular cases. read more »