self-management at zanon: “we showed that it is possible”

Zanon: a factory in the hands of the workers, Argentina. Published by Wildcat in December 2003.

zanon

The Neuquén province, where Zanon is located, was one of the epicentres of the protests that swept Argentina in the 1990s. It was here that the piqueteros first emerged in the town of Cutral-Co, and there are many militant trade unionists. Unlike in most of Argentina, many of the attempted privatizations of state owned enterprises were defeated. In May 2006, teachers won a 40% pay rise following a month long strike. But most famous, is the successful takeover of the Zanon tile factory and its subsequent worker-run management. In 2000 the workers went on strike. The employer implemented a lock out and the workers responded by occupying the factory. In October 2001, the workers officially declared the factory to be ‘under worker control’. By March 2002, the factory fully returned to production. In April 2003, the courts ordered the police to forcibly take the factory out of the hands of the workers. In response the workers developed a broad based campaign and as the police began to move in over 3000 citizens of Neuquén formed a picket in front of the factory. During the period of worker control, the number of employees has increased from 300 to 470, and wages have risen by 100 pesos a month, and the level of production has increased. Accidents have fallen by 90%. Continue reading “self-management at zanon: “we showed that it is possible””

protest by bmw/mini workers at cowley

report and photos by David Broder

A picket of the BMW-owned Mini factory in Cowley, near Oxford, was called for six o’clock this morning in response to last week’s sudden laying-off of 850 agency staff. The workers were informed that they had lost their jobs just one hour before the end of their last shift – provoking outrage at both management and the UNITE union, who colluded in keeping the affair a secret for the last three weeks. This sleight of hand was a blatant effort to stop workers effectively reacting to their redundancy, for example by occupying the plant as some workers suggested.

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Today’s protest received a small degree of media coverage, after the widespread circulation last week of a video of workers confronting the union officials who had sold them down the river, such as site convenor Bernard Moss who told the Oxford Mail : “The problem we had was that we were under clear instruction we could not give out any information until the company said so. That caused a lot of concern from the workforce over the last couple of weeks. Although we are a trade union, we are employed by the company. If they give out an instruction, it would be a brave person to defy that. These days not many people would support a shop steward if he was sacked.” Clearly Moss has none too great an idea of the word ‘solidarity’ or the actual purpose of a trade union. Continue reading “protest by bmw/mini workers at cowley”