A space for debate on self-management
[Editor's note: This report on the International Meetings on "The Worker Economy" was written in the Spring of 2015 by Andrés Ruggeri, Director of the Open Faculty Program, FFyL-UBA. The Fifth International Meeting, which is described here as still upcoming, took place this last July. Steve Herrick who provided us with this translation, is currently completing work on an ebook compilation of presentations from the Fourth International Meeting, which we will be releasing in the coming months.]
The 3rd and 4th of October, 2014, in the Textiles Pigüé Worker Cooperative, a recovered business in the town of the same name in the interior of the province of Buenos Aires, the First South American Regional Meeting on “The Worker Economy” was held, with the participation of more than two hundred workers, cooperators, and university students from Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Colombia, Venezuela, and Brazil. This event wasn't an isolated meeting, but part of an effort to create a space for debate, reflection, and coordination between self-managed workers, different kinds of cooperative experiences, unions, and social movements related to the working class and economic debate, together with social and political activists, intellectuals, and academics committed to these struggles and processes. During 2014, besides the South American meeting, there was a European Meeting in the occupied (and finally recovered) French factory Fralib, in Gémenos, close to Marseilles, and a Meeting of North and Central America in Mexico City. The three were aimed at preparing for the Fifth International Meeting in Punto Fijo, Venezuela, from the 22nd to 26th of July, 2015.
This whole process emerged in 2007 in Argentina, inspired by the experience of our recovered businesses and on the initiative of the Open Faculty Program of the School of Philosophy and Letters of the UBA, with the convening of the First Meeting on “The Worker Economy.” Since then, the event has been held every two years, with rounds in Argentina, Mexico, and Brazil, besides those already mentioned. In this article, we will recount this development, focusing on regional meetings and on the call for the Venezuelan meeting.
The International Meetings on “The Worker Economy”
Soon, in the Donato Carmona Industrial Free-Trade Zone on the peninsula of Paraguaná, Venezuela, the fifth round of the International Meeting on “The Worker Economy” will be held. It is a space for debating and connecting experiences of self-management of work and new forms of working-class struggle in the economic setting, where the leaders of these struggles and those who contribute to their development from the academic or intellectual setting converge. It is, in that sense, a meeting of unusual characteristics, because it isn't a university congress, or a plenary of activists, but a meeting place to think about the reconstruction of the economic and political project of the workers at the international level, with the participation of workers, activists, and intellectuals from some 30 countries on all five continents.
The Meeting emerged in 2007 as an initiative of the Open Faculty Program of the University of Buenos Aires, together with several other organizations and national and foreign institutions. The first two meetings were held in 2007 and 2009 in Buenos Aires, and in 2011, the Area of Labor Studies of the Autonomous Metropolitan University of Mexico took charge, organizing the third round. The fourth was Joao Pessoa, in the Brazilian state of Paraíba, in 2013. It was in this last round that decisions were made that allowed the Meetings to move from universities to factories: the members of the Socialist Workers' Council of the Venezuelan factory VTELCA presented themselves as the site of the following meeting, and the idea was presented of holding meetings by regions in the years in between.
So it was that three regional meetings were organized during 2014. The first, in February, was the European Meeting, in Fralib, a French factory that had been occupied by the workers for three years (at the end of last year, it managed to be consolidated as a recovered business) and brought together, for the first time, workers from the main cases of business recovery in Europe (from France, Italy, and Greece) and activists, cooperators, and unionists from around a dozen countries. In October, in the recovered business of Textiles Pigüé, in the province of Buenos Aires, the South American meeting was held. And in November, at the Worker University of Mexico (a university created by Mexican unions in the Cardenas era), the North and Central American Meeting. All these meetings aimed at holding a more specific discussion of their regional environments and strengthening the call to the Fifth Meeting.
The Fifth Meeting, then, is going to be held in Venezuela, in the town of Punto Fijo, Falcón State, about 600 km. west of Caracas. An industrial zone built for Chavismo is located there, with several State electronics factories and PDVSA's largest refinery. The organizers this time are the factory workers themselves, organized in the Committee of Workers of the Industrial Free-Trade Zone of Paraguaná, composed of workers from the factories collected there, together with the National Movement for Worker Control, which encompasses the workers' councils of all Venezuela. At the same time, the international committee has been solidified, made up of organizations of workers and academic groups from a number of countries. Besides the Venezuelans, participants are expected from Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Mexico, Puerto Rico, the United States, Canada, Cuba, Spain, Italy, France, Greece, England, Germany, Turkey, South Africa, and China, among others.
The Meeting has been, in this way, consolidating as an international space for debate and coordination to think about and debate the economy from the point of view of the working class. Its location in Venezuela is an important challenge, given the importance of the experience of organizing the Venezuelan workers' and popular movement and the aggression that that nation suffers from the centers of imperial power. Also, in its different rounds, the Meeting has been discussing not only the problems of self-management resulting from the process of businesses recovery, but has expanded its view to other points of singular importance: the renewal of the cooperative movement as a result of these new processes in historical terms and the theoretical debate that accompanies it; precarious and informal work resulting from the expansion of global neoliberal capitalism and ways of organizing resistance to it; challenges of the changes in capitalism for labor organizations; and, finally, the problems of associated, cooperative, or self-managed labor in different economic settings. Also, in every round of the Meeting, some main points are added that are defined by the organizing committee (composed of different organizations and convening institutions, which is expanding year after year) based on topics considered of importance similar to those already mentioned. Roundtables, or debate panels, and commissions are organized where works, both by academic researchers and by activists and workers, are presented and discussed.
The goals that inspire the meeting are promoting broad and coordinated participation by intellectuals and workers at the international level
The goals that inspire the meeting are promoting broad and coordinated participation by intellectuals and workers at the international level, learning about experiences of another kind and beginning to debate them among the participants, seeking theoretical wealth in a way that is neither sectarian nor overly academic, and to the extent possible, trying to establish coordination between the struggles and processes but without prioritizing the creation of an organization or the imposition of a given theoretical-political line, but rather, providing dialogue between different visions. While the idea is not to form an organization, or replace those that exist, neither is it to seek participation that is so vague and so varied that it doesn't allow us to reach any kind of conclusion or make any advances. Basically, and as we already said, it is not an academic congress, although presentations are made and certifications are granted, or a Congress of organizations, cooperatives, or unions, but a space where these two worlds that need not be separated can hold a dialogue and find each other and—why not?—coordinate at some point.
The first four meetings: Buenos Aires (2007 and 2009), Mexico (2011), Paraíba (2013)
The convening document of the First Meeting, held in 2007 in the headquarters on the 25 de Mayo Street in the School of Philosophy and Letters of the UBA, defined the sector and scope to which it pointed this way:
Worker struggles, in their different variants (unions, the self-managed, rural movements, movements of the unemployed, etc.), have re-emerged strongly in the last decade after the hegemony of neoliberal globalization that was imposed on the world, with absolutist pretensions, after the collapse of so-called real socialism.
However, the old tools and strategies of struggle (class-based parties and traditional unions, among others) have shown themselves to be, at least, insufficient. (…) Capitalism's ability to respond and the strength and implacability of its repressive power greatly exceeded the capacity for change of popular forces, with tragic consequences. (…)
Recovered businesses, self-managed enterprises of various kinds, cooperativized rural settlements, unionized workers' movements of a new kind, fair-trade networks, and a large variety of organizations and forms of struggle are part of this panorama, sometimes in an autonomous and fragmentary way, but other times, forming part of powerful popular political movements, long-standing social movements, parties, and leftist political fronts, also including those supported by programs funded by the State or directly as part of public and government policy.
This panorama opens a discussion on the role of workers in the management of a society's economy, considering that workers are the majority of the world's population, who depend on their work for subsistence, whether from wage relations, from cooperative management of work, and even from the absence of either, like the structurally unemployed under neoliberalism or servile over-exploitation.1
Within this framework of definitions, the Meeting called workers and intellectuals from some fifteen countries in North and South America, Europe, and Africa to three days of intense debate, the outcome of which was a desire to continue on that path2. The second meeting, convened in 2009 with the subtitle “Self-management and work in the face of the global crisis,” also in the School of Philosophy and Letters, but in the building on Puán Street, occurred in a similar framework. Both had between 300 and 400 participants from around fourteen countries3. The debates were intense and exhausting, but of enormous wealth4.
The third Meeting was the first to be held outside our country. It was carried out in Mexico, organized by the Area of Labor Studies of the Autonomous Metropolitan University, Xochimilco Unit, whose researchers Marco Gómez Solórzano and Celia Pacheco Reyes had participated in the previous meetings and shouldered the work of forging ahead in a country facing a full-scale human and social collapse that began with the fraudulent triumph of Felipe Calderón in 2006 who, halfway through his six-year term of office, had already unleashed the disastrous “war on drugs,” whose tragic results drew the world's attention to the case of the massacre of Ayotzinapa. At that time, the Mexican Meeting introduced the question of urban and worker self-management in a country with an enormous tradition of rural cooperative organizing, and had the participation of the most important unions facing the neoliberal government, like that of the miners and the SME (Mexican Union of Electricians) and the main cases of Mexican recovered businesses, like the Refrescos Pascual Cooperative, TRADOC (Western Democratic Workers, tire manufacturers in Guadalajara) and Tepepan (a fish-processing plant in the State of Mexico). In fact, the Mexican meeting, which had the slogan “Thinking about, and fighting for, a new economy of work and self-management,” closed with a plenary in the main headquarters of the SME, a union that was violently attacked by Calderon's government, which took the buildings of the State electric company Luz y Fuerza del Centro by force, along with the union headquarters, decreed its dissolution and the dismissal of the 44,000 workers who made up one of the strongest and most combative unions in the country5. The number of works presented in Mexico exceeded 806, with participants from a dozen countries7.
The Fourth Meeting was held in Joao Pessoa, the capital of the Brazilian state of Paraíba, in the headquarters of the Federal University of Paraíba (UFPB), and was organized by a group of core members of the extension and research divisions of several universities of that country, notably INCUBES (Incubator of Social Enterprises) of the UFPB, SOLTEC (Center on Technical Solidarity) of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, and NESOL (Center on the Solidarity Economy) of the University of Sao Paolo. This Meeting had a much larger Latin American majority than the previous one, though it did have the presence of participants from countries like Australia, South Africa, Germany, the United States, and England8. The number of works exceeded a hundred9, and there was participation by representatives of large Brazilian organizations like the Unified Workers' Central (CUT), UNISOL (an umbrella group of recovered businesses) and the MST (Landless Movement). In this Meeting, besides the discussion of the main points of work, two important decisions were made. The first of them was to accept the proposal that arose from workers of the VTELCA (Venezuelan of Telecommunications) factory to hold the Fifth Meeting in Venezuela, and specifically in the factory itself. The consequence was that, for the first time, the Meeting left the physical and organizational space of the university to go to that of the workers themselves. The second decision was to not let two years go by between each event, but hold them by regions in the years in between meetings. Those meetings were organized directly in factories or spaces connected to the workers' movement, in all three cases, as we're going to detail.
The regional meetings
While European participants had been a minority in the first four Meetings, the emergence of processes of resistance that included factory recoveries and the creation of cooperative networks as a way to create work in the middle of the profound economic crisis that struck the European continent starting in 2011 led to the efforts to convene a meeting with these characteristics in Europe, which bore fruit at the beginning of 2014. It is worthwhile to tell something of the backstory of this meeting, because, for the first time, it brought together activists and workers from a number of European countries and from factories in struggle to discuss these topics, and that meeting was, strikingly, organized from our country10.
Several factors were combined in the convening of the first European Regional Meeting. First, the decision at the Joao Pessoa Meeting to convene meetings by regions, even though there was almost no one from Europe (except José Luis Carretero, of the Institute of Economic Sciences and Self-Management, ICEA, from Spain), since the person who made the proposal (Mario Hernández, of the Argentine magazine La Maza) spoke convincingly about the European crisis and the emergence of some recovered factories. Second, the fact that, for years, the Argentine experience of recovered businesses attracted numerous researchers and activists from the Old Continent to our country to learn about it, many of whom came in contact with the Open Faculty program. Third, the activism of Hernán and Leonor Harispe, Argentine exiles in France during the dictatorship and creators of ASPAS11, who made the initial contact with the factory Fralib, which was then in conflict, to be the site of the Meeting. Fourth, the author of this article traveled to various countries in Europe in November 2013 and held a series of meetings that led to holding the event at the end of January of 2014.
So it was that Fralib, an infusions and tea-processing factory12 that had been occupied for three years by its workers, received more than 200 workers and activists from Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Great Britain, Germany, Serbia, Austria, plus Latin Americans from Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina, in an intense debate among the machines. The regional meetings were thought of with a program in which the specific problems of the zone would be predominant. Because it was the first European meeting, and because it had both Latin American inspiration and presence, the first roundtable was a debate on the recovered businesses and other cases of self-management and worker cooperatives in countries like Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, and Mexico, in which Francisco Martínez, of Textiles Pigüé, together with the organizers of the meetings on our continent, talked about the Argentine experience of recovered businesses, giving a basic panorama to be able to compare with the European cases that were discussed in the second roundtable. In the latter, workers from Fralib and Pilpas, of France, talked about their processes together with the Greeks of Vio.Me, the Italians of Rimaflow and Officine Zero, and the Serbs of the Prokret za Slobodu movement, which, while it isn't a company or recovered or occupied factory, promotes struggles for self-management in a country that was part of the longest case of self-managed experiences, the former Yugoslavia. The discussion of the Europeans was marked by a situation that finds them in extreme weakness, with little organization and with an atomized working class, some of whom have even been won over to xenophobic positions. However, the triumph of the Fralib workers after a short time and the powerful emergence of alternative options in Spain and Greece, empowered the resistance and, within it, reliance on self-management. In the European meeting (something that later spread to the other regional meetings) there was no presentation of speeches of the academic sort, but several roundtables with different speakers, and openness to continuous debate through the talks (facilitated by the great work and solidarity of the interpreters from Babels, who made communication possible between speakers of a dozen languages).
The other roundtables debated the characteristics of the resistance to the crisis in Europe and in other countries where there were large recent demonstrations, the role of unionism and the struggle against labor precariousness, which is at the root of the closure of most of the factories and companies that currently lead cases of recovery or self-managed struggles in Europe, as well as in the origin of numerous collectives of precarious youth that are organized to work collectively. With that in mind, the experiences of groups of precarious workers in Officine Zero of Italy and the Network of Self-Managed Collectives of Madrid provided their vision and their analysis based on their practice, while Luis Rodrigues Algans, of the CNT and the ICEA of the Spanish State, or José Luis Carretero, also of the ICEA, and Christian Mahieux, of the Union Sindical Solidaires, did so with respect to the practice and challenges of unions at this stage. Celia Pacheco Reyes, of Mexico, for her part, delineated an interesting panorama of the structural informality of work in Mexico.
These words of Theodoros Karyotis, of the committee to support workers of Vio.Me, in Thessaloniki, do a good job synthesizing the spirit that prevailed in the two days of discussion on Fralib:
Besides a exchange of ideas and experiences, many projects were also started in this first European meeting. Workers, activists, academics, and supporters started campaigns to publicize the products of self-managed factories, made agreements for direct exchange of goods between the factories, set up tools for networked production and collective decision-making, and developed projects that advance the theoretical understanding of self-management and the advancement of the popular knowledge of the problems that surround it, such as the website workerscontrol.net, a multilingual resource dedicated to the study and promotion of self-managed workplaces. There was even talk of a solidarity fund which would emerge from the surplus that occupied factories may have, which will provide funds for new ventures and will help them to cut bonds with the system of capitalist financing.
When it comes to creating human economic activity based on equality and solidarity, there are no pre-established rules. The imagination of the workers and their will to struggle for a better world are the only limits. The event of “The Worker Economy” in Fralib was inspiring for everyone involved, and may have inspired the creation of a wider European movement for the occupation of the means of production and for genuine self-management of workers.
In the end, two working committees were made: one for the coordination of struggles (a large part of the participants didn't know each other or have a relationship with each other before the meeting) and another to do the work of research, similar to the surveys of recovered businesses done in Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay.
The two other regional meetings were on the American continent. The North and Central American meeting was held in the middle of November in Mexico City. While it wasn't held in a factory, it was carried out in a worker environment: the deliberations were in the Worker University, an old institution always linked to unions, founded by the historical leader Vicente Lombardo Toledano during the government of Lázaro Cárdenas, and the closing session was held in the auditorium of the SME. The Mexican meeting had a presence of participants from the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and Costa Rica, besides Mexico itself, and had an agenda marked by major regional issues: the North American Free Trade Treaty, informality, “maquilas,” migration and casualization, the struggle against capitalism that preys on natural resources, and the struggles for self-management. The massacre of Ayotzinapa, learned of a few days before the event, led to the creation of a final declaration (which is not unusual in these meetings) signed by all the organizations and participants.
The South American meeting in Textiles Pigüé
The third and fourth of October, 2014, the South American meeting was held in the recovered business Textiles Pigüé (formerly Gatic). Excellent worker organizing allowed more than 200 people to debate extensively for two days in the facilities of the plant. There were workers from recovered businesses in the capital, from different districts of the province of Buenos Aires, of La Pampa, Cordoba, Mendoza, and Santa Fe, together with representatives of public bodies that work with the sector, like the Ministry of Labor, the CONAMI, the Undersecretariat of Cooperativism and the Provincial Directorate of the Small, Medium, and Microenterprise and Local Productive Development from the province of Buenos Aires. Also, researchers from the UBA, the University of Rosario, that of La Pampa, the University of the South, and the Arturo Jauretche National University. Also, there were workers and researchers from Brazil, Venezuela, Uruguay, and Chile, and visitors from the Self-Management Association and ASPAS of France.
As in the other regional meetings, there was not a call for presentation of papers, but roundtables with a good number of speakers: a) The Latin American situation in the new crisis of global capitalism: analysis and responses from the worker economy; b) Self-management in debate: self-management, co-management, worker control, cooperativism, and other ways of running the economy from the point of view of the working class; c) State and public policies in self-management processes; d) Problems of self-management: management, production and productive integration, technology, legal situations; and e) Challenges of salaried, precarious, and informal worker organizing.
The presence of various functionaries of Argentine public bodies that are responsible for dealing with the topics that occupy us led to an intense debate on the role of the State and public policies in the promotion and sustenance of worker co-ops and the recovered businesses in particular. There was also a lot of debate on the internal dynamics of self-management, especially from the economic point of view. Even more polemical was the role of capitalist businesses that use market mechanisms to influence, condition, or associate with recovered businesses. The possibility of these associations, keeping in mind the difficulty the recovered businesses have in capitalizing, the lack of credit, etc., created an intense debate. The participation of Pablo Guerra and Anabel Rieiro, of Uruguay, focused on the importance of policies of public financing like Fondes of that country, while a vision of global economic and political context was presented by Richard Neuville, of the Self-management Association of France, Gabriel Videla (UBA), and the author. The participation of workers from recovered businesses was intense, both in the talks and in the working committees that were created at the end of the second day, based on what had been discussed and debated in the roundtables. Among the participants were workers from, of course, the host cooperative, Textiles Pigüé, the recovered businesses and worker cooperatives of the Hotel Bauen, Los Chanchitos, La Casona, Chilavert, Mil Hojas, Herramientas Unión, La Cacerola, Diario de Villa María, Los Constituyentes, 7 de septiembre, CUC, Frigorífico Incob, Bras Root, Plásticos Ensenada, 19 de diciembre, La Maza, La Yumba, La Territorios, Giros, Guido Spano, la Nueva Unión, the Jorge Cedrón cooperative, Reciclando Sueños, Oeste Argentino, Proyecto Coopar, Lo Mejor del Centro, Flaskó (Brazil), the federations Red Gráfica, Red Metalúrgica, FACTA, and the Confederación de Trabajadores de la Economía Popular (CTEP).
At the end, there was a final plenary where several proposals were presented for organization and coordination to take the Fifth Meeting to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. This was filmed by the documentarians of the Alavio Group, who also screened their movie "Bauen: Struggle, Culture, and Work."
Towards the Fifth Meeting
The regional meetings prepared the field of debate and organization necessary for the call to the Fifth Meeting, which is going to be carried out in the Donato Carmona Industrial Free-Trade Zone, Punto Fijo, Falcón state, Venezuela, from July 22nd to the 26th of this year, on the initiative of the workers of the Socialist Workers' Council of VTELCA and a group of organizations of the Venezuelan working class.
VTELCA is one of the four factories in an industrial zone built during the government of Hugo Chávez. They are not recovered factories or cooperatives, but mixed State factories, property of the Venezuelan State for the most part, and also of Chinese and Vietnamese State businesses. In all the factories of what in Argentina we would call an industrial park, there is a Socialist Workers' Council. These councils were organized a few years ago and are part of the National Movement for Worker Control, a national umbrella organization of all the workers' councils in Venezuela. The delegates from the VTELCA factory, which manufactures cellphones, were at the Fourth Meeting in Brazil and brought the proposal to their peers. So, this is an event organized on the factory workers' initiative and ability to organize, in continuity with events described in this article13.
The current situation of Venezuela is not easy at all. The absence of leadership like that of Hugo Chávez intensified the attacks that the Bolivarian process suffers, especially in the economic sphere. That is why holding the meeting in Venezuela, in these moments, is even more important than when things were more favorable and the Bolivarian process itself took charge of promoting and financing events, like the First Latin American Meeting of Recovered Businesses, in October of 2005. It is important to mention this, since the imperial strategy to weaken and finally stop the Venezuelan process is, beyond constant harassment and economic sabotage, to isolate the country. The Fifth Meeting will debate the topics that it has been discussing from the beginning, to incorporate into that debate the very rich and particular experience of the Venezuelan workers' and cooperative movement, and to contribute to breaking this isolation.
Below, we transcribe some paragraphs from the call:
In countries of the so-called Third World, especially in Latin America, broad social movements, popular organizations, and worker movements have been developing processes of grassroots organizing that, in many cases, have been expressed through the self-management of economic units of production or services, as in the case of businesses recovered by their workers and other forms of co-management, worker control, and self-management of work, both urban and rural. In some cases, these popular movements have gained influence at the level of governments, as is seen in various South American countries, raising the issue of the role of States as possible drivers of these processes, but at the same time, as an object of dispute and a tool of traditional power, and this reopens the debate on the relationship between State power and the autonomy of the popular movement. (...) We reiterate here what we pointed out in previous convening documents: 'While uneven and non-hegemonic, the different sectors and expressions of a more and more diversified working class already show alternatives that are not limited to the sphere of economics, but also reach spheres that make it possible to glimpse an overlap with cultural processes that, based on non-capitalist relations, result in prefigurative spaces where we can reopen discussions on internal relations of power and gender, as well as the relationship with community. These processes, present in recovered factories and incipient self-managed enterprises, give us a glimpse of how workers, starting with conscious planning, can present mankind with an alternative model to capitalism.'
The proposal of the Meeting on “The Worker Economy” is, then, to develop a systematization based on experiences, both in criticism and resistance to management of the economy by capitalists, and in the formation of their own forms of guidance from the working class.
The main points of debate will be the following:
The crisis of global and Latin American capitalism: analysis and responses from the worker economy.
Debates on self-management, co-management, worker control, cooperativism, companies of social production, and other ways of running the economy from the workers.
Problems of the construction of a political economy of work: management, production and productive integration, technology, legal situation.
Popular power, communes, social property and territory.
The role of the working class in the transformation of the State.
Challenges of unionism and of other forms of worker organization in global neoliberal capitalism.
Precarious, informal, and servile work: social exclusion or reformulation of forms of work in global capitalism?
Educational system for participatory, proactive, and democratic management of workers.
The convening organizations, for their part, have expanded. While in the first meetings, organizing was the responsibility of the Open Faculty Program and the conveners at each site, starting with the regional meetings, the network gained strength and the responsibilities are now shared among many more. The international organizing committee already consists of organizations from Argentina, Venezuela, Mexico, Brazil, Italy, France, Uruguay, Canada, Spain, and Greece.
Our strategy, then, is to continue the path of construction and reflection begun in 2007, which we have summarized in these pages.
After a hard struggle, the workers of the SME reached an agreement to set up worker cooperatives and come back to work. A group of university students, all participants in the Third Meeting and in some cases in later events, are working side by side with the unionists on the formation of these cooperatives. This space for debate has had more than a little influence in this development.
Recently, the magazine Veredas, of the UAM-X, published a special edition dedicated to the work of this meeting, titled “Worker Economy: current debates.” Revista Veredas, No 29, second semester of 2014. Mexico City.
The Worker Economy Library (Peña Lillo/Continente) published a selection of works of the Fourth Meeting in two volumes, entitled Crisis and Self-Management in the Twenty-first Century: Cooperatives and Recovered Businesses in Times of Neoliberalism (Ruggeri, Novaes and Sardá de Faria, comp., 2014) and Informal Work, Solidarity Economy, and Self-Management: Labor Precariousness and Resistance in Globalization (Gómez Solórzano and Pacheco Reyes, comp., 2014). The complete presentations were published on the website of the Federal University of Paraíba (they are not exactly the same as in the books, since these include texts based on the oral presentations in the roundtables): http://is.calameo.com/read/002525558d4fbae350aea
Dario Azzellini, of the Workers Control Network, tells something of this in his article on the recovered businesses of Europe: “Yes, we can! Businesses recovered by workers in the northern hemisphere during the current crisis.” In Magazine Org&Demo, vol. 15, No. 1, January 2014, Universidade Estadual Paulista, UNESP-Marília, p. 9-36.
ASPAS (Provenza Solidarity Association of South America) is an NGO dedicated to solidarity with Latin America, and which, for more than fifteen years, has organized a Latin American film festival in Marseilles. Hernán Harispe, an Argentine journalist and activist, sadly passed away in October of 2013, shortly after consolidating the organization of the meeting in the Fralib factory with the workers. Hernán Harispe invited the author of this article and Francisco Martínez, of Textiles Pigüé, to a meeting of ASPAS in Marseilles, in January of 2013, and from there, the relationship with the workers of Fralib emerged, which led to it being the site of the European meeting.
Fralib is a factory that belonged to the multinational Unilever, which closed it to take their production to Poland. Workers occupied it, and after more than three years of struggle, the on 22nd of May, 2014, they achieved a historic triumph when they were given the property and an indemnity of 20 million euros by the business, and launched their cooperative.
More information: www.recuperadasdoc.com.ar and http://economiadelostrabajadores.org.ve and http://www.idelcoop.org.ar/revista/216/encuentro-internacional-economia-trabajadores-espacio-debate-autogestion#sthash.dBYbsJ0K.dpuf
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