Greek Factory Under Workers Control

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The Nation

Greek Factory Under Workers Control

The workers of Vio.Me., a building materials factory in Thessaloniki, Greece, which was abandoned by its bankrupt owners, have been unpaid since May of 2011. This week, after a series of general assemblies the workers convened, they’ve started occupying the factory and operating it under direct democratic workers’ control. The culmination of a year-long struggle that has attracted attention and solidarity in Greece and worldwide, the occupiers are trying to kick-start production and prove themselves a viable new model.

As part of a letter being circulated by the Thessaloniki Solidarity Initiative explains:

This experience of worker’s occupation to workers recovery and control is not new—either historically or currently. Since 2001 there are close to 300 workplaces that are run democratically by workers in Argentina, ranging from health clinics and newspapers and schools, to metal factories, print shops and a hotel. The experience there has shown that workers together cannot only run their own workplace, but can do it better. The example of Argentina has spread throughout the Americas, and now to Europe and the United States. In Chicago, workers of New World Windows have begun production under workers control after years of struggles with former owners and bosses. And now in Greece, workers are again showing that the way forward—out of unemployment—refusing the crisis—is workers control and directly democratic self-management.

This is a dangerous time for Greece. Worn down by years of austerity, the right, led by the neo-fascist Golden Dawn is making gains. But the left is also on the rise. Bold experimentation is called for and has, perhaps, a better chance of a fair test than at previous, more stable points in the Greek economy. The Thessaloniki workers have reached out for solidarity throughout Greece and received critical support. But, more help is needed.

Here’s what you can do:

- Spread the word. Share this information with friends, family and your Facebook and Twitter communities.

- Contribute money. Forging new anti-capitalist economic models is expensive. The costs of production are high and the first few months are critical. Whatever you can afford here will be devoted to a genuine effort to create a new way of doing things. Think of it as an investment in the future.

- Send solidarity statements to Thessaloniki’s Open Solidarity Initiative at protbiometal@gmail.com. The workers are encouraged by the warmth of solidarity coming from abroad.

Peter Rothberg

Peter Rothberg writes the ActNow column for the The Nation. ActNow aims to put readers in touch with creative ways to register informed dissent. Whether it's a grassroots political campaign, a progressive film festival, an antiwar candidate, a street march, a Congressional bill needing popular support or a global petition, ActNow will highlight the outpouring of cultural, political and anti-corporate activism sweeping the planet.

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