Caravan of Struggle and Solidarity and the news from the legal front

Dear friends and supporters of the struggle of VIOME for self-management:

After the overwhelming response of international supporters to our campaign against the liquidation of the company, the workers and solidarity members organized a “Caravan of Struggle and Solidarity” comprising several workers’ struggles that fight for employment and dignity. Participants in the caravan included the workers of self-managed ex-public broadcaster ERT and the laid off cleaners of the Ministry of Finance (both recently reinstated by the government), laid off workers of Halkida Cement factory (a subsidiary of French Lafarge), of the Aluminium of Greece factory in Viotia, laid off schoolteachers and school guards.

The caravan started in Thessaloniki and went through various Greek cities, with crowds saluting its passage. It culminated in a joint press conference in Athens on Sunday, April 5th, where Argentinian scholar Andres Ruggeri also had the chance to present his new book on the recuperated enterprises movement of Argentina, recently published in Greek. On April 6th, the caravan marched to the Ministry of Labour (see video), where the minister, Panos Skourletis, was absent, despite having been informed about the arrival of the caravan well in advance. A committee of the caravan met with senior officials of the ministry, who affirmed that they will take any action necessary to ensure the continuation of production at the self-managed factory.

The workers reminded the ministry officials that the ruling party had characterised VIOME as an “exemplary effort for the productive reconstruction of the country” and demanded a political solution for the conflict. They promised to maintain the mobilisations until their efforts to self-manage the factory are ratified by law.

In the meantime, two important court decisions were announced recently, both negative for the struggle of the workers of VIOME for self-management. On the one hand, the workers’ appeal against the bankruptcy of VIOME was rejected, on the grounds that the workers are not legally entitled to make such demand. This is clearly a biased interpretation of the law and a political intervention on behalf of the administrative court.

On the other hand, a different administrative court approved the request of the trustee, the administrator of bankrupt Philkeram, parent company to VIOME, to liquidate the company premises.  A possible acquisition of the land would provide legal ground for the eviction of the workers, however this is not an immediate threat. The workers and the solidarity members of VIOME have pledged to remain inside the factory, resist, produce and defend the workers’ controlled company, regardless of any legal actions. The courts have proven once more to be instruments of repression in the hands of the ruling class. However the workers have an absolute legitimation in the eyes of society, since they are placing the common good, the defence of jobs and the productive reconstruction that springs from social self-initiative over the private interests of the few.

As a response to these developments, the workers of VIOME are stepping up the mobilisation. They are promoting the establishment of the “Caravan of Struggle and Solidarity” as a permanent horizontal structure of coordination of workers’ struggles, outside the institutional avenue of the bureaucratic trade unions. The mobilisations will culminate in a great event on Sunday 21 June at the factory. There will be a farmers market, food and drink, a concert with popular hip-hop bands, graffiti artists decorating the walls of the factory, and a big assembly of all the struggles of the Caravan of Struggle and Solidarity. The highlight of the day will be the visit of workers from the Bosnian occupied factory DITA, where we will have the opportunity to bond with our Bosnian brothers and sisters and exchange information and experiences.

Solidarity is our weapon! Messages of support to VIOME from around the planet

The outpour of international solidarity ahead of VIOME's important legal battle on March 23 has been overwhelming!
We are now translating the messages and signatures we got from dozens of different countries into Greek, in order to submit them in court on Monday. 
You can see here the photos and read the -untranslated- messages we have received from workers of other recuperated enterprises, such as Kazova, Rimaflow, Bauen, Fabrique du Sud, and many more, as well as from trade unions, collectives, parties, organizations and individuals from all over the world. In a later post, you can read all the signatures of support categorised by country. The workers and solidarity members of the VIOME recuperated factory are deeply moved by the warmth of the international solidarity!

VIOME is not for sale! 
It belongs to the workers and to society!

Dear Comrades and fellow workers of Vio.Me;
we hope that this message will reach you in time.
It is an attempt to send all the solidarity from the workers of Özgür Kazova. We have just learned of your trial tomorrow and we wish you strength and luck at the same time. As the last resisting workers of a 23 months long struggle against a bankrupt owner who wanted to sell out the factory premises, we have been through our final court case only two months ago. In our case the court confirmed what we had repeated for two years: that the machines to produce belong to those who produce. The only compensation for year of labour under bad pay can only be the ability to control the means of production and ensure equality among workers, without bosses nor injustices.
We wish the same victory to you, and we look forward to finally meet you in person next week.
This is only the beginning, may the struggle continue!
Free Kazova

International solidarity with the workers of VIOME in front of the imminent threat of liquidation of the company

The workers of VIOME in Thessaloniki, Greece, have stood up against unemployment and poverty by carrying through a long struggle to self-manage the occupied factory in very adverse conditions. For two years now, they have been producing and selling ecological cleaning products at the occupied premises, ensuring a modest income for their families. They have been working on terms of equality, taking decisions collectively through the general assembly. At the same time they have received a big wave of solidarity from Greece and abroad, converting their struggle into an emblematic struggle for human dignity in crisis-stricken Greece.

The ex-owners of the factory, the Fillipou family, have never stopped trying to obstruct the process, posing legal hurdles in every step along the way. Four years ago they abandoned the factory, keeping all the benefits to themselves and leaving millions in unpaid wages to the workers, condemning their families to poverty and misery. Today they appear again, conspiring with the state-appointed bankruptcy administrators and the judicial system in order to liquidate the company.

While the ex-owners were convicted to 123 months in jail at first instance for the millions owed to the workers, the court of appeals reduced this sentence to a 43 months suspended sentence, thus in effect absolving the ex-owners from having to ever pay back the workers.

At the same time, on March 23 there is a new trial to evaluate the administrator’s request to liquidate the machinery and the premises. If the court rules in favour, big financial and real estate interests will have the opportunity to gain a foothold in the VIOME premises.

The workers of VIOME and the national and international solidarity movement are determined to resist a possible sell off by any means available. On Friday, March 20 we are carrying out a protest at Thessaloniki’s city centre, including a farmers market and the direct sale of the VIOME products to the public. On Monday, March 23 we gather in front of the court house, to protest against the intention of the administrators and the judges to liquidate and sell off the company and its premises, to condemn the workers and their families to unemployment and misery in order to serve the interests of the powerful.

Furthermore we declare that, regardless of the ruling of the court, we are determined to stand our ground and defend the VIOME factory, a workplace that was kept alive thanks the determination of the workers and the solidarity of the wider community. We refuse to surrender it to the judicial powers, which have repeatedly denied justice to the workers and the underprivileged.

Our destiny is now in our own hands, we manage our work and our lives ourselves. We will not permit anyone to destroy what we have built with so much effort. We declare to the judges, the police, the administrators, the ex-owners and any prospective buyers:



We are here, stronger than ever!

Our 3-day mobilization event for the 2nd anniversary of VIOME’s production under workers' control has been completed successfully, with a massive participation of people in solidarity with our self-management project [photos]

Over two thousand people visited the factory of VIOME on February 15, to celebrate, in solidarity with its struggling workers, the two years of workers’ self-management!
Solidarity supporters from many Greek cities, as well as from abroad, responded to the VIOME workers’ call with their presence and active participation.All of the existing social and labor movements in Northern Greece stood next to our cause and renewed their ties with the basic premise of VIOME’s project for self-management, thus confirming the great social acceptance of this project. Indicative of the above is that during our 3-day mobilization events we were honored by the presence and support of the employees of ERT3, of workers from the Greek Vehicle Industry (ELVO), of the laid off school guards, of the anti-gold mining militants from Northern Chalkidiki, of the social health clinics, of the anti-fascist collectives, of producers without intermediaries, of workers in various collaborative projects, of dozens of political collectivities and groups, and of hundreds of workers and unemployed of all ages.

We owe special thanks to the renowned musicians and singers Thanassis Papakonstantinou and Dimitris Zervoudakis, as well as to all the other groups of musicians who once again demonstrated their active support of our difficult struggle.

What we retain as a most valuable conclusion is that in these 3 days it was once more the people’s solidarity and support that blew the wind of successon the sails of the VIOME workersthe wind of success to their struggle against the threats and manipulations of the former employer, who sees the plant as a "premium steak" for sale; the wind of success to their struggle against unemployment and misery!

We continue until the final victory of this struggle, until we start counting 1, 2, 3 … and many more VIOMEs!

Announcement of the workers of VIOME about the verdict concerning the provisional administration

Justice has worked (even though Filgueram’s liquidator hasn’t been indicated for partiality)!

After reading carefully the verdict about the appointment for the Provisional administration of VIOME we have reached the following conclusions:

First of all, the request of Filgueram’s liquidator hasn’t been accepted. According to this request, the Fillipou family would be appointed as provisional administration of VIOME, with the aim of bringing the body into a general assembly of the company in order to appoint a regular administration and bring the company into bankruptcy.

On the contrary, one of the three members we, the workers, had suggested for the provisional administration has been accepted (the other two members were selected from the Court’s list of experts, and their impartiality will be constantly under control). The most important thing is that the Provisional Administration’s obligations include a financial control and the reorganization of the company of VIOME.

It is recognized that the ones who guarantee the safety and the right function should be controlled, something that we, the workers, have taken care of. It is also recognized, even silently, that the best ones to guarantee the factory’s property are the workers ourselves.

The verdict clearly shows that the court didn’t take into account the lies on the part of the liquidator and her witness, who were trying to caluminate us, the workers, who are the  victims of this case.

We are sure that, struggling on and keeping our projects in the forefront of the fight, we will be able to have a victorious result and gain our right in life and dignity, for ourselves and our families.

Combatively, the workers of VIOME

Press Release About today's trial on the case of VIOME

Thessaloniki, 8/7/14

                         Press Release About today's trial on the case of VIOME

 With dozens gathered in solidarity, inside and outside of the courtroom, the trial for the case of Filgeram-Johnson liquidator’s request took place today. The liquidator asks that the Filipou family returns as the administration of VIOME, even as a provisional one. Filipou family are the ones who abandoned the factory and the workers, owing millions of euros, the ones who are condemned to many year of prison for their depts.

 Since 9 o’clock in the morning, the crowd that was gathered in solidarity “occupied” the outer space of Thessaloniki’s courts, showing in this way their support to the struggle of the workers and their trade union. Apart from workers, unemployed, unionists and collectives, a happy surprise came when many members from the group of Austria’s Socialist Party youth, who were visiting Greece, participated in the protest, showing their support to the struggle.

Regarding the trial, the liquidator  A. Semerdgidou, after asking the intervention of VIOME workers to be rejected, for not having “legal interest” (!!!!), she remained firm to her proposals and supported till the end the outrageous proposition for the return of the previous bosses. “With them as administration, VIOME produced qualitative and commercial products”, she said, as if the last four years never existed.

From the workers’ side, the representative of the VIOME trade union, as well as the second witness, G. Papakonstantinou, supported the right of the workers to take over the factory and run it by themselves, and to do whatever they can to avoid the bankruptcy of VIOME, that would lead to the eviction of the factory and the canceling of all their requests from the administration.

Specifically, Makis Anagnostou, from the workers’ side, totally deconstructed the arguments of the administration -that the advocate was constantly using- proving this way, with economic data how did Filipou family’s tactics lead to the closing of the factory. He talked about the possibilities and the perspectives that opened in front of the workers after the indifference showed from the administration, and supported that not only the machinery is not wore down, as the advocate claimed, but in the contrary, thanks to the presence of the trade union in the factory, the machinery is in perfect condition.

 In addition, a painful impression was created, when a lawyer of “ex VIOME workers” turned up and claimed under oath that “the occupation of the factory is being held only by 4 people” (!!!!), something that caused the mockery of the crowd present in the courtroom. The same lawyer, claimed among other things, that he knows Filipou family very well, and that he believes that “they will help for the reopening of the factory”, a statement that sounded at the best a tasteless joke, for those who have followed even the basics of the case.

This time, at the court, the “ex workers” who have taken the part of the bosses didn´t appear, nor did anyone from Filipou family. We guess that they didn´t do it, because they don´t have the courage to confront the workers of VIOME and their families (who support the struggle for years now), and look at them in the eyes. Maybe they were ashamed to appear, but they keep having the nerve to put their lawyers to do shamelessly the “dirty job”.

 Finally, we want to thank the hundreds of unemployed, workers, collectives and groups that supported the struggle, for one more time, gathering outside the courthouse of Thessaloniki, but also those who came to the protest today outside the Ministry of Labour, and to yesterday’s demonstration in Crete, to the intervention in Sparta, and the comrades from Italy who gathered outside the Greek Embassy last week. We are confident, that the decision of the court, which we will be waiting to come out in the weeks ahead, will not put another obstacle to the fair and extensive struggle of the workers. In any case, the solidarity movement showed today, that we are determined to do whatever we can so that this struggle will not step back.

The self-management of the workers in VIOME has come to stay

                  Open Initiative of Solidarity to the struggle of the workers of VIOME

Tomorrow the crucial court for our struggle. Tuesday 8th July, everybody in Thessaloniki’s Courthouse

Tomorrow the crucial court for our struggle. Tuesday 8th July, everybody in Thessaloniki’s Courthouse
Tomorrow morning, on Tuesday 8th July at 09:00, let us all be in Thessaloniki’s Courthouse, to defend the promising project of VIOME workers.

 • We will not allow the acceptance of the ex-administration request, who is aiming to return to the administration of the factory.

• We will not leave VIOME to be led to bankruptcy, which would lead to the evacuation of the factory, the dismissal of the workers without compensation and the cancelling of their requests.

 • Let the machinations of the family Filippou collapse – The Filipou Family has been sentenced to more than ten years in prison, and yet, they are still not serving the sentence.

• The factories to the workers, the production to those who produce wealth, the debts to the bosses who created them.

For almost three years now, the workers of VIOME, have been giving an uncommon and continuous struggle. It is a struggle for survival for them and their families. It is also a struggle that opens the way for the self-management of the workers, for a society with equality and freedom, without poverty, unemployment and wretchedness. It is a struggle that has the following motto on its flags: “Worker, you can make it without any bosses, the gear cannot turn without you”.

 Thousands of people in solidarity, unemployed, workers, trade unions in the field of industry, commerce, services and agriculture, organizations, community clinics and solidarity networks, individuals but also collectives from all the spectrum of social life, locals, immigrants, in Greece but also from all over the world, all these years have helped and supported our struggle.

Let them all understand it, all those people who seek a grip on the factory, who are trying to come back to the factory in order to finish the speculative desertion/dissolution they started two years ago, all those who are afraid of the expansion of the example of VIOME: The crack this struggle opened will not close. The self-management of the workers in VIOME is here to stay. Viome will stay in the workers’ hands.

Tomorrow on Tuesday 8/7, from 9 o’clock in the morning, we will all be at the Courthouse of Thessaloniki, to give our answer.

 Direct Democracy in the base Self-management in the production

Open Initiative of solidarity and support to the workers of VIOME