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Catalyzing worker co-ops & the solidarity economy

Worker-Owners Gather in Marseille

The occupation of businesses by workers and their democratic self-management through horizontal decision-making processes is a centuries-old practice. More recently, however, it has reemerged as an increasingly common phenomenon — most prominently in Argentina around the turn of the century, which currently counts about 300 “recovered” workplaces employing over 15.000 workers.

Can this model also constitute a viable solution in Europe, not only to growing unemployment and poverty, but also to the very exploitation and alienation that lie at the core of the capitalist mode of production? This was the main question that the first European “Workers’ Economy” meeting, held on January 31 and February 1 at the occupied Fralib factory, tried to address. The idea behind these independent and self-funded events was born seven years ago in Argentina, with its two-decades old tradition of factory occupations. Soon after similar events were held in Brazil and Mexico.

This first European dition of the gathering brought together not only the workers of self-managed occupied factories from around Europe (mostly Italy, France and Greece), but also academics, activists, trade unions and organizations that promote and study self-management, such as the French Association Autogestion and the Spanish ICEA.

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