Factories without bosses

Please help in defending an inspiring and courageous workers' struggle in Argentina. The Zanon ceramic tile factory, a democratic, worker-run factory in Patagonia, is facing a serious threat of eviction, and the workers have asked for international support for their struggle.

Over the last week, the workers of the Zanon factory in Argentina have received numerous death threats. The wife of a worker was kidnapped, had her face and chest slashed, and was threatened various times - all in the face of police and governmental indifference.

At the same time, a legal decision on the status of the factory is pending. The judge in charge of the case, ignoring the excellent job the workers have done in the three years since the administration of the factory has been in their hands, has put the
workers at risk of being expelled from the factory.

The citizens of the world must not stand for such abuses, which recall the very worst of the military dictatorship in Argentina and only favour police and business impunity.

For those of you who have seen the documentary, The Take, the Zanon factory, and Argentina's wider movement of worker-run companies will be very familiar. For those of you who haven't, this new movement of some 15,000 workers in almost 200
democratic workplaces is building hope and a concrete economic alternative in the rubble of Argentina's disastrous experiment with orthodox neoliberalism in the 1990s.

Recovered companies are run by assembly: one worker, one vote. In most of them, workers have decided that everyone should receive the same salary. They are proving the viability of an economy run on an entirely different value system, and they are growing. In the past year, Zanon has increased its workforce from 300 to 450: a 50% increase. What multinational corporation or national government could boast of such a dramatic rise in decent-paying employment in the middle of an economic crisis?

And Zanon has cultivated a deep and mutual relationship with the surrounding community. For 20 years, the poor neighbourhood of Nueva Espana, across the highway from the factory, has been asking the provincial government for health clinic. Zanon workers took a vote earlier this year, and in 3 months built and opened a brand new community health facility.

But now the provincial government is threatening to send in the Gendarmeria to remove Zanon's precious machines. This is an illegal order, since this force is Federal, intended to police Argentina's borders. On a second front, the Federal judge presiding over the bankruptcy of the former owner is refusing to recognize the Zanon workers' co-operative (called FaSinPat -short for 'Fabricas Sin Patrones', Factories Without Bosses.)

The former owner received millions in public subsidies, and still amassed a huge debt and bankruptcy: he has since been removed from his own board of directors for "accounting irregularities". The workers' co-operative, on the other hand, is a major success: it is now producing 380,000 square meters of ceramic tiles a month - a level of production higher than when the former owner closed the factory - and the workers do it without the huge public subsidies (300,000 pesos per month) that he used to receive.

The Zanon workers have told us that a massive international petition in support of their struggle could make a key difference with the various levels of courts and governments. Zanon's highly successful combination of direct action and direct democracy is a precious example of that other world that is possible, that is
growing before our very eyes.

We urge you to sign the petition and do everything you can to encourage others to do the same.

Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein sent this appeal to Spectrezine.