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.