Tuesday February 12, was the first day of production under worker control at Viomichaniki Metalleutiki (Vio.Me), a building materials factory in Thessaloniki, Greece, which was abandoned by its bankrupt owners two years ago. Facing thirty percent unemployment and a dismal future for their community, workers in a series of mass assemblies decided to occupy the factory and operate it under direct democratic workers’ control.
As part of a letter being circulated by the Thessaloniki Solidarity Initiative explains:
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 United States. 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.
In this conversation, recorded via Skype just a day after the start of production, solidarity worker Theodoros Karyotis told GRITtv about the background of the struggle, the context out of which the workers’ decision came and what international supporters can do to help.
The biggest help would be to spread the word, to donate…but the most important thing really is to organize themselves. This crisis is not just a Greek phenonomenon but the most vulnerable have a huge instrument in their hands: self organization. This would be the greatest help to our cause.
Karyotis spoke to GRITtv from Micropolis, a community center in Thessalonika, part of the solidarity movement surrounding and supporting the Vio.Me workers.