March in Defense of Zanon

On September 14 a delegation of Zanon workers and participants in the Unemployed Workers Movement (MTD) Neuquén traveled to Buenos Aires to organize a national campaign to defend the factory. Hundreds of workers marched in the city’s centre to demand the definitive expropriation of all re-occupied factories and businesses in Argentina. Since March, 2002 Zanon’s workers have set an example that workers can produce even better under self-organization/management without owners, bosses or foremen.

A delegation of 170 activists – 100 workers from Zanon and 70 from social movements supporting the factory – arrived in the morning in Buenos Aires to march to a local court and national congress in defense of a government eviction of the factory. Workers from Chilavert printing factory, Bauen Hotel, Brukman suit factory, Conforti printing factory, Renacer electronics from Usuhia, Junin health clinic, Ados health clinic, Gattic shoe company, Sasetru pasta company, and various unemployed workers organizations participated in the march.

Workers from the recuperated factory movement presented a bill for the definitive expropriation of all recuperated companies and factories to congress. Meanwhile, protestors urged the need to defend factories at all costs, with or without legal standing.

In recent weeks the workers of Zanon have been on alert after pressures from the provincial governor for the workers to leave their job posts inside the factory and work in a government sponsored micro-enterprise projects targeted for unemployed. After three years under worker control, the provincial government of Neuquén re-launched an attack against the factory in the same month where the workers reached a record high in production, sales and quality. Recently, a judge refused to recognize Zanon as a worker cooperative giving the factory legal standing.

The march was part of a nation wide strategy on part of the recuperated business movement. In Argentina there are over 200 re-occupied factories and businesses employing some 10,000 workers. The factory Zanon, a ceramics factory occupied by its workers in the southern province of Neuquén, is the strongest experience of production under worker control. Zanon employs 420 workers and is producing some 3,000 metres of ceramic tiles per month. Since the original 240 workers occupied the factory in March, 2002 more than 180 new workers from unemployed workers organizations have been incorporated into the factory.

Protestors explained that definitive expropriation under worker control is the only concrete solution to permit businesses recuperated by workers to function without the threat of eviction or co-optation on the part of the state. The government, after the crisis of December 19 and 20, 2001, gave many workers occupying businesses temporary permits to function inside offices and factories. However, these agreements had a two year limit. The permit that Chilavert, the printing factory Grissanopolis, and the bread stick factory recovered by its workers hold are set to expire before the end of 2004. It is uncertain how the current government will negotiate the conflict.

Protestors expressed that this government has no intention of providing dignified work for the nation’s unemployed but is continuing a policy of controlling social protests through the criminalization of the poor. Argentina’s economy has seemingly hit a steady point after a severe financial crisis ripped the nation in 2001. Economists urge that the economy is stabilizing and is registering growth in the GDP. Meanwhile, economic problems affecting much of the working sectors has not been resolved. While foreign investors and large companies are registering a recovery, economic growth has not transferred to working sectors. Unemployment currently stands at 19.5 percent. At least 15.7 percent of workers are underemployed, meaning that at least 36.2 (or approximately 5.2 million workers) have serious work problems.

Argentina’s occupied factory movement has developed the most advanced strategies in defense of the working class and resistance against capitalism. These experiences of worker self-management/organization have directly challenged capitalism’s structures: private property, expropriation of workers’ skills and knowledge of machinery, and business organization only for profits.

In defense of Zanon and all worker occupied factories!

If they mess with one of us, they mess with all of us!

Definitive expropriation of all factories and companies producing under worker control!

Grupo Alavío

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