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Catalyzing worker co-ops & the solidarity economy

Occupy, Resist, Produce - RiMaflo

Documenting Life and Work at a Revolutionary Italian Co-op

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May 8, 2015
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The Maflow plant in Trezzano sul Naviglio, located on the industrial periphery of Milan, was part of the Italian transnational car parts producer Maflow, one of the most important manufacturers of air conditioning tubes worldwide. Far from suffering consequences of the crisis and with enough clients to keep producing, Maflow closed in 2009 following fraudulent bankruptcy. The workers of the plant in Milan, Maflow’s main production facility, began a struggle to reopen the plant and keep their jobs. They occupied the plant and held spectacular protests on the plant’s roof. Because of their struggle Maflow was offered to new investors. In October 2010 the Maflow group was sold to the Polish investor Boryszew. Without ever restarting production the new owner closed the plant in Milan in December 2012 removing most of the machinery.

In February 2013 former Maflow workers occupied the plant, and together with precarious workers and workers from a nearby factory, which had been shut down after fraudulent bankruptcy. The 20 workers participating full time in the project completely reinvented themselves and the factory. They started recycling computers and electronic household devices, opened a bar and cafeteria, organize a flea market and cultural activities with the community, and have built alliances with local organic agricultural producers and together they have created a group for solidarity shopping. They plan to transform the factory into a plant for industrial recycling. As former Maflow worker Mariarosa Missaglia explains, their aim is to “get the factory back on its feet without an employer; show that even without an employer this can be achieved”. Her co-worker Antonio Galliazzo points out that this is not an easy task: “We are on the way to construct workers’ self-management, because self-management does not come from above. In this way, it is clear that we come across a number of weaknesses, things that do not work.”

At the same time the workers want to stay connected to other struggles. “We think our experience cannot be a happy island, where we get our income and organize ourselves,” explains Gigi Malabarba, worker and participant in RiMaflow, “We can win if we are part of a larger struggle and increase tenfold and a hundredfold experiences such as these, to nurture the idea that another economy is possible. If the economy of the bosses is in crisis, we need to develop a different idea of economics”.
“Occupy, Resist, Produce – RiMaflow” follows the workers in their day to day activities and discussions as well as in their political and strategic debates.

The film is the first in a series of short films on occupations of workplaces and production under workers' control in Europe.

Director and producer: Dario Azzellini and Oliver Ressler
Camera: Thomas Parb
Additional camera: Rudolf Gottsberger
Boom operators: Riccardo Arrigoni and Emanuel Balbinot
Film editors: Dario Azzellini and Oliver Ressler
Sound design, re-recording mix and color correction: Rudolf Gottsberger

Special thanks to: Ines Doujak, Gigi Malabarba, Pina Toscano, Marina Sitrin, Bert Theis

The project was funded partly through support of the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) AR 183-G21. Thanks for support to the Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria


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