BICYCLE PLANT UNDER WORKERS' CONTROL:
Since the 10th of July workers at the Bike Systems GmbH factory in have been on strike and occupying the Company's factory in the Thuringian Nordhausen area of Germany. The Company applied for bankruptcy protection on August 10th, a possibly very planned move as the factory was "stripped" of productive assets before the strike actually began. Yes...you can indeed make good money out of being bankrupt, especially if you plan ahead. Production at the plant had actually stopped as of June 30th. Various plotters have been operating to acquire the facility and restart operations under what can only be described as a "weapon of mass destruction of workers' rights" (see http://www.bike-eu.com/news/2484/bikes-systems-possible-re-start-after-insolvency.html ). The workers who have been occupying the plant, however, have their own ideas. They have now decided to resume bike production under a self-managed system. The German anarcho-syndicalist union, the FAU (Freie Arbeiterinnen und Arbeiter Union) has joined them in solidarity and is arranging to build a solidarity marketing campaign for the bikes that will be produced by the new self managed factory. Molly reproduces below an article from the Libcom site that provides a translation from the German. Molly has slightly edited this article for reasons of proper English usage. Molly's comments follow.
"Hamburg/Nordhausen, 19th of September in 2007:
Staff of occupied bicycle factory in the Thuringian Nordhausen take up production in self-management again:
The 135 colleagues of the bicycle factory Bike Systems GmbH in the Thuringian Nordhausen who have occupied the factory since the 10th of July, 2007 decided to resume the production of bicycles under self-management. To achieve this aim 1,800 binding orders on bicycles must be received before October 2nd. So the colleagues are working together with the anarcho-syndicalist union FAU (Freie Arbeterinnen und Arbeiter Union-Free Workers' Union) which has formed for this campaign the internet page www.strike-bike.de .
For more than two months the staff have kept the factory in the south of the Harz Mountains occupied in a triple shift. They want to prevent the definite dismantling and sale of the factory. The filing for bankruptcy as of August 10th faces long odds: The factory is exploited and run down. The hall was emptied except for the coating line. the staff receives unemployment compensation and hopes for a new concept and a new investor.
THE "STRIKE BIKE- SOLIDARITY BIKES FROM NORDHAUSEN:
During the occupation and in the wake of discussions during the visits of solidarity people the colleagues of the factory developed the idea to initially take up production under self-management for a short time. Because it is not only the point to only prevent the removal of the last machines and to wait for a new investor, the idea of a "Strike-Bike" met with more and more response. Now the opportunity arises to show the ability for the workers to develop their own concepts and to self-manage production and distribution.
If all goes well and 1,800 advance orders are collected for the bicycles produced under self-management, we will spread the idea of solidarity and bolster colleagues in similar situations to not let themselves be restructured to zero. By whomsoever !
The staff receives assistance in solidarity from the member of the anarcho-syndicalist union Freie Arbeiterrinnen und Arbeiter Union (Free Workers' Union) which will become active in the whole of Germany to spread the knowledge of the striking bicycle workers and to support the sale of the 'Strike-Bike'.
For more information go to http://www.strike-bike.de
For background information and the history of the occupation see http://www.labournet.de/branchen/sonstige/fahrzeug/bikesystems.html
To get in contact with the staff and to take orders see:
Bikes in Nordhausen e.V.
c/o Andre Kegel
Bruno-Kunze-Str 39- 99734 Nordhausen
Telefon 03631-622-124 and 03631-403-591
For further information about the FAU-Strike Bike solidarity Group see spokesperson
-mobile 0179-4863252 and:
from Monday to Friday 10:00 am to 3:00 pm
+49- 40- 20906896
The original unedited communique can be seen at the Libcom link given above
THIS is the sort of thing that all rational anarchists should celebrate, encourage, support and publicize as widely as possible. With all its limitations this is about 2,000 light years closer to the anarchist idea of "direct action" than dozens upon dozens of set piece theatrical confrontations with police at various "summits". NONE of these little spectacular (in the situationalist sense) acts of theatre ever accomplish more than building an illusion of a movement while at the same time demonstrating to those outside of the charmed circle that anarchists are more than slightly demented because they like to lose battle after battle after battle. The workers at this plant do actual real direct action. It is actions that actually accomplishes something, that has at least a reasonable chance of success. It is not symbolic play acting.
Yes... there are problems with this action by the German workers. In the present configuration of forces it can only be temporary. It is a delaying action while waiting for the "new investor". Its great success will be that it will show that workplaces can be managed without bosses, and it will show this to a particularly "conservative" audience in Germany. The "legend" will live on after the reality has died.
Molly wants to call attention to a certain aspect of this dispute. The workers at the plant receive unemployment payments". This means that they can hold out much longer and "take the chance" of trying to restart production under self-management. This advantage is the result of the German state having a long tradition of a "tamed social democracy". This is not necessarily the case in other countries. Here in Canada the workers would have been cut off long ago, assuming that they could ever have collected EI. In a country such as Venezuela, ruled by a pseudo-populist demagogue the workers would have had the choice of one of three options: 1)integration into a nationalized system at much lower wages ,2)simply being ignored just like Canada or 3) being subjected to the full force of a much more violent repression if the owners of the factory were "bum buddies" of Chavez (part of the 'BoliBourgeoisie' as it is called down there). Molly thinks that this is further proof of her contention that a mild and tamed social democracy is the best environment in which to build libertarian socialism. NO...no demands for nationalization, but many demands that make peoples' lives easier whether they are in struggle or not.
It would be interesting to compare and contrast these sort of things in Germany with the "recuperated workplaces" in Argentina. Germany is not Argentina. Argentina today is not Spain circa 1936. The terrain for the struggle for liberty changes. Both the Argentinian examples and the German one as well depend far too much on the benevolence of the state. THIS is where Mutualism supplements syndicalism. There will be no more "sudden overturns". Just a long and grinding struggle. The "Revolution" today is not Blitzkrieg. It is trench warfare. Initiatives such as those of the German bike workers are a great advance. What is needed is the financial muscle to support such initiatives. This can only be provided by Mutualist credit organizations. Only such things can offer the financial muscle to make self-management not just a holding action until a new boss is found but rather a viable alternative to the cloying arms of the state. Can our present Credit Unions be reformed so that they can provide such support ? Are other institutions needed ? What will they be ? All these are open questions. How do we escape dependence on the state ?