Argentine Workers Take Over Failed Factories
MARCELA VALENTE, INTER PRESS SERVICE - Women are playing a major role in the revolutionary Argentine workers' initiative of taking over factories that have been abandoned by their owners, and in so doing, rescuing jobs and salaries that seemed to have been lost forever. "You can't cut off our water, we've paid all our bills," María Pino protests over the phone, while using her free hand to rifle through a stack of papers on a nearby shelf, searching for the file folder of receipts from the Aguas Argentinas water company to prevent a cut-off.
Pino has worked at the Grissinópoli baked goods company in Buenos Aires for 33 years. She was the "right-hand woman" of a succession of company presidents who ran the business from the height of prosperity into total ruin. Today, although she earns the same wages as the company's 16 factory floor workers, she holds the reins of this newly successful business, albeit one faced with the burden of old debts. Grissinópoli is a member of the National Movement of Factories Recovered by Workers, a collective of roughly 80 companies formed in the late 1990s to group together bankrupted businesses that had been abandoned by their owners, but not by their employees.
The movement encompasses manufacturing and services industries hit by the four-year recession that began in 1998 and culminated in 2001 with the economic, social and political collapse that brought down the government of President Fernando de la Rúa (1999-2001).
self-management , cooperative , argentina