Solidarity to the struggle of the workers of Vio.Me. factory in Thessaloniki, Greece, for self-management!
A great 30-minute documentary shot in the premises of Vio.Me a few weeks before production started. The workers document the shutting down of the company, their decision to self-manage it and the birth of the solidarity movement.
The machines of self-management have been switched on!
After 3 days of intense mobilization, the factory of Vio.Me. has started production under workers’ control earlier today! It is the first experiment in industrial self-management in crisis-striken Greece, and the workers of Vio.Me. are confident this is going to be only the first in a series of such endeavors.
|The march was massive and vibrant.|
The mobilization kicked off with a big assembly of the workers and solidary organizations and individuals in a central downtown theater on Sunday evening. Here the course of action of the solidarity movement was discussed, and everyone had the chance to take the microphone and to express their opinion on the workers’ struggle.
|Really talented artists played in support of the Vio.Me struggle.|
On Monday evening there was a march in the city center followed by a huge benefit concert with several well known folk bands and singers. Among them Thanassis Papakonstantinou, one of the most important contemporary Greek songwriters who is in a sense “part of the movement” since he always supports with word and deed the efforts of society for self-determination. The attendance exceeded everyone’s expectations. Unfortunately about a thousand people didn’t manage to get in, as the stadium was packed. The stellar moment of the night was when the workers took the microphone and explained their vision of another society, based on social justice, solidarity and self-management. Five thousand people were applauding, shouting and chanting songs of support. It was then that everyone realized that this endeavor is bound to succeed!
|One of the Vio.Me. workers addresses the people.|
Early next morning the mobilization went on with a vibrant march towards the factory. The workers were already in their positions and the production was triumphantly kick-started in front of the cameras of national, local and alternative media. The workers organized a guided tour of the factory and explained all the details of the production process to journalists and participants in the solidarity movement.
|The first batch of products produced under worker’s control!|
There is still a long road ahead: The costs of production are high, access to credit is impossible and getting a part of the market in times of recession is uncertain. The workers are however optimistic: The proceeds from the benefit gig and the donations of supportive groups and individuals collected through viome.org should be enough to keep the company afloat in the first few months. And the support of the social movements means many of the products will be distributed through the existing structures of social and solidary economy. The workers of Vio.Me. are already researching new cleaning products, based on non-toxic ecological ingredients, apt for home use. The factory makes quality building materials (mortars, plasters, tile adhesive paste and jointing materials, waterproof grouts, etc.) and the workers know very well how to improve the quality even more while lowering the production costs and hence the price. The challenge is now to find a market for these materials, either within Greece or in the surrounding Balkan countries. Some products can be shipped even further, so they could be distributed through the international solidarity movement as well.
From the workers of Kouta Steel Factory in Egypt To the workers of Vio.Me Industrial Mineral Factory in Greece!
Message of Solidarity
Long Live the struggle of the Vio.Me and Kouta Workers!
Chairman of the Independent Trade Union Chairman of the Board
Ahmad Shaarawy Mohsen Saleh
The factory of Vio.Me (Industrial Mineral) starts production under workers’ control!
IN THE HEART OF THE CRISIS, THE WORKERS OF VIO.ME. ARE AIMING FOR THE HEART OF EXPLOITATION AND PROPERTY.
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!
Paving the way for workers’ self-management everywhere!
Paving the way for a society without bosses!
VIO.ME: Law is the worker’s right and not the law of the bourgeoisie
An interview with Makis Anagnostou, president of the Viomihaniki Metalleytiki’s workers’ union (VIO.ME), to the paper Nea Prooptiki
-N.P. You remain unpaid since May 2011, while September was also the last month you were entitled to the welfare allowance that you were getting from the Organization for the Employment of the Labour Force. How do you survive under such conditions?
-M.A. I wouldn’t say pioneering. Our demand has for ever been the primordial demand of working people. What the working person, and more so the industrial worker, looked forward to was to take the means of production in their hands in order to be able to produce for themselves. This issue is one we put to all working people, but the bourgeois class does for years and years now is to keep the working class into hypnosis so that it cannot be able to think in this way. For this reason, it directs the struggles to more “quiescent” and bourgeois preferred solutions. I have to repeat it; we took the examples of the past and we believe that with the setup we have planned and the charter that we will draw we will become able to keep a very good level of cooperativity, because all this is essentially going to become a workers’ cooperative that will go beyond the bourgeois type of solutions.
ANY CONTRIBUTION IS HELPFUL!
AMONG THOSE WHO SUPPORT THIS INITIATIVE ARE:
THE STRUGGLE FOR SELF-MANAGEMENT OF VIO.ME.
The workers of Vio.Me., a building materials factory in Thessaloniki, Greece, which was abandoned by its owners, have been unpaid since May 2011. By decision of their general assembly they have decided to occupy the factory and operate it under direct democratic workers’ control. After a year-long struggle that has attracted attention and solidarity in Greece and worldwide, they are kick-starting production on February 12, 2013, after 3 days of intense mobilization.
What can you do to help?
– Spread the message! Forward this information to your friends, contacts and organizations. Our shield against repression is our connection with society! The secret to our success are strong community links!
– Contribute economically! The costs of production are high and the first few months will be critical. The workers have a solid business plan and are very optimistic about the success of the endeavor, however it will take some time before they are consolidated in the market. Let´s all contribute to making it happen! Use the “Donate” button above, any amount is useful!
– Organize in your workplace, your neighbourhood, your town! Promote real social self-management without the need for intermediaries, professional politicians or bureaucrats! Form cooperatives and neighborhood assemblies, protect the commons, promote a new civilization based on proximity, mutual recognition and solidarity!
– Direct any questions or solidarity statements to Thessaloniki’s Open Solidarity Initiative at firstname.lastname@example.org. The workers will be happy to feel the warmth of solidarity coming from abroad!