“We see this as the only future for worker’s struggles.” -- Makis Anagnostou, Vio.Me workers’ union spokesman
Tuesday, February 12, 2013 is officially the first day of worker-controlled production in the factory of Viomichaniki Metalleutiki (Vio.Me) which produces building materials in Thessaloniki, Greece. This means that production has been reorganized without bosses or hierarchy and is instead planned via directly democratic worker-assemblies. These workers’ assemblies have declared an end to the unequal division of resources and plan to collectively determine a fair and equal remuneration. Furthermore, they plan to move towards a production of these goods that is not toxic or damaging for the environment.
“With unemployment climbing to 30% - sick and tired of big words, promises and more taxes - not having been paid since May 2011, the workers of Vio.Me, by decision of the general assembly of the union declare their determination not to fall prey to a condition of perpetual unemployment, but instead to take the factory in their own hands to operate themselves. It is now time for worker’s control of Vio.Me.!” (Statement of the Open Solidarity Initiative, written together with the workers of Vio.Me – full statement: Viome.org)
Pay for the workers in Vio.Me stopped in May of 2011. Subsequently, the owners and managers abandoned the factory. After a series of assemblies the workers decided that they would run the factory together. Since then, they have occupied and defended the factory and the machinery needed for production. Through continued outreach to other workers and communities in Greece, they have received tremendous support. The solidarity and support of all of these groups, communities, and individuals has made an important contribution towards the survival of the workers and their families thus far.
The experience of worker’s occupation to workers recovery and control is not new –historically or currently. Since 2001, there have been close to 300 workplaces run democratically by workers in Argentina ranging from health clinics, newspapers and schools, to metal factories, print shops and a hotel. The experience 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, now including the US and Europe as well. 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 and refusing the crisis – is workers control through directly democratic self-management.
“We urge all workers, the unemployed and all those who are affected by the crisis to stand by the workers of Vio.Me and support them in their effort to put in practice the belief that workers can make it without bosses! To participate in the struggle and organize their own fights within their work places, with directly democratic procedures and without bureaucrats.” (Union’s website: biom-metal.blogspot.gr)
As with all factory recuperations, the question of initial financing is central. While solidarity has been able to maintain the lives of the workers of Vio.Me and their families, the capital needed to continue production is huge. The workers’ union has a business plan that is sustainable, but will take time to get off the ground. These first months are crucial. Financial help can make all the difference. Any contribution is helpful.
Direct financial support can be sent to the Vio.Me workers’ union in Thessaloniki through the International Solidarity Website: viome.org
Solidarity Statements as well as questions can be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thessaloniki Solidarity Initiative, Brendan Martin (Working World), Dario Azzellini and Marina Sitrin
Supporters of this initiative include:
David Harvey, Naomi Klein, Avi Lewis, John Holloway, Silvia Federici, George Caffentzis, David Graeber, Mag Wompel (labournet.de) and The Cooperativa de Trabajo lavaca, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Please - send this letter/article to your email lists, post it on your websites, social media sites etc. The experience of recuperated factories around the world is that their best defense is the solidarity shown from people around the world - and in their local communities. Let's act together in solidarity!