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.
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