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labor Occupied Greek Factory Begins Production Under Workers Control

Tuesday, February 12, 2013 is the official first day of production under workers control in the factory of Viomichaniki Metalleutiki (Vio.Me) in Thessaloniki, Greece. This means production organized without bosses and hierarchy, and instead planned with directly democratic assemblies of the workers. The workers assemblies have declared an end to unequal division of resources, and will have equal and fair remuneration, decided collectively.

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Vio.Me (Industrial Mineral) Starts Production Under Workers Control,
Occupy, Resist, Produce!
“We see this as the only future for worker’s struggles.”
Makis Anagnostou, Vio.Me workers’ union spokesman
Tuesday, February 12, 2013 is the official first day of production under workers control in the factory of Viomichaniki Metalleutiki (Vio.Me) in Thessaloniki, Greece. This means production organized without bosses and hierarchy, and instead planned with directly democratic assemblies of the workers. The workers assemblies have declared an end to unequal division of resources, and will have equal and fair remuneration, decided collectively. The factory produces building materials, and they have declared that they plan to move towards a production of these goods that is not harmful for the environment, and in a way that is not toxic or damaging.
“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)
Workers in Vio.Me stopped being paid in May of 2011, and subsequently the owners and managers abandoned the factory. After a series of assemblies the workers decided that together they would run the factory. Since then, they have occupied and defended the factory and the machinery needed for production. They have continued to reach out to other workers and communities throughout Greece, receiving 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.
This experience of worker’s occupation to workers recovery and control is not new – either historically or currently. Since 2001 there are close to 300 workplaces that are run democratically by workers in Argentina, ranging from health clinics and newspapers and schools, to metal factories, print shops and a hotel. The experience there 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, and now to Europe and the US. 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 – refusing the crisis – is workers control and 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: protbiometal@gmail.com
Signed,
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
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FROM THE WEBSITE: http://www.viome.org/
The factory of Vio.Me (Industrial Mineral) starts production under workers' control!
 
"We are the ones who knead and yet we have no bread, 
we are the ones who dig for coal and yet we are cold.
 
We are the ones who have nothing and we are coming to take the world "
Tassos Livaditis (Greek poet, 1922-1988)
 
IN THE HEART OF THE CRISIS, THE WORKERS OF VIO.ME. ARE AIMING FOR THE HEART OF EXPLOITATION AND PROPERTY.
 
With unemployment climbing to 30%, workers' income reaching zero, sick and tired of big words, promises and more taxes, unpaid since May 2011 and currently withholding their labour, with the factory abandoned by the employers, the workers of Vio.Me. by decision of their general assembly declare their determination not to fall prey to a condition of perpetual unemployment, but instead to struggle to take the factory in their own hands and operate it themselves. Through a formal proposal dating from October 2011 they have been claiming the establishment of a workers' cooperative under full workers' control, demanding legal recognition for their own workers' cooperative, as well as for all the others to follow. At the same time they have been demanding the money required to put the factory in operation, money that in any case belongs to them, as they are the ones who produce the wealth of society. The plan that was drawn up met with the indifference of the state and of trade union bureaucracies. But it was received with great enthusiasm by the world of the social movements, which, through the creation of the Open Initiative of Solidarity in Thessaloniki and afterwards with similar initiatives in many other cities, have been struggling for the past 6 months to spread the message of Vio.Me across society.
 
Now it's time for worker's control of Vio.Me.!
 
The workers cannot wait any longer for the bankrupt state to fulfil its gratuitous  promises of support (even the 1000-euro emergency aid promised by the Ministry of Labour was never approved by the Minister of  Finance). It's time to see the Vio.Me. factory -as well as any other factory that is closing down, going bankrupt or laying off its workers- reopened but its workers, and not by its old or new bosses. The struggle should not be limited to Vio.Me., in order for it to be victorious it should  be generalized and spread to all the factories and businesses that are closing down, because only through a network of self-managed factories will Vio.Me be able to thrive and light the way towards a different organisation of production and the economy, with no exploitation, inequality or hierarchy.
 
When factories are closing down one after another, the number of the unemployed in Greece is approaching 2 million and the vast majority of the population is condemned to poverty and misery by the governing coalition of PASOK-ND-DIMAR, which continues the policies of the preceding governments, the demand to operate the  factories under workers' control is the only reasonable response to the disaster that we experience every day, the only answer to unemployment; for that reason, the struggle of Vio.Me. is everyone's struggle.  
 
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! We call them to participate in a nationwide Struggle and Solidarity Caravan culminating in three days of struggle in Thessaloniki. We urge them to take up the struggle and organize their own fights within their working places, with direct democratic procedures, without bureaucrats. To participate in a general political strike in order to oust those who destroy our lives!
 
Aiming to establish worker's control over factories and the whole of production and to organize the economy and society that we desire, a society without bosses!
 
It's Vio.Me.'s time. Let's get to work!
Paving the way for workers' self-management everywhere!
Paving the way for a society without bosses!
 
Open Initiative of Solidarity and Support
 
to the struggle of the workers of Vio.Me.