Argentina’s occupied factories

Argentina’s occupied factories

Brukman is a factory in Argentina that has been occupied and successfully run by workers after owners abandoned it. The government is forcibly trying to take it back for the owners. There has been major violence, and thousands have demonstrated against the government. In a truly chilling phrase, the federal judge who wrote the eviction order said: “Life and physical integrity have no supremacy over economic interests”. What a guy…

Naomi Klein explains more in The Guardian:

“Last Monday, the Brukman factory was the site of the worst repression Buenos Aires has seen in almost a year. Police had evicted the workers in the middle of the night and turned the entire block into a military zone guarded by machine guns and attack dogs.

Brukman isn’t just any factory, it’s a fabrica ocupada, one of almost 200 factories across the country that have been taken over and run by their workers over the past year and a half. For many, the factories, employing more than 10,000 nationwide and producing everything from tractors to ice cream, are seen not just as an economic alternative, but as a political one as well.

In Brukman, for instance, the means of production weren’t seized, they were simply picked up after they had been abandoned by their legal owners. The factory had been in decline for several years, debts to utility companies were piling up, and, over a period of five months, the seamstresses had seen their salaries slashed from 100 pesos a week to a mere two pesos – not enough for the bus fare.

These factories have become a major political issue in Argentina. Their new President will have to tread quite carefully. The economy is shattered, unemployment is massive, and workers aren’t about to leave. “When you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose”.