Friday, September 21, 2007




GERMANY:
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
Fax 03631-622-170
For further information about the FAU-Strike Bike solidarity Group see spokesperson
Folkert Mohrhof
-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
MOLLY COMMENTS:
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 ?

2 comments:

Omid said...

Solidarity Letter to the Workers of the Bicycle Factory “Bike System” in the Thuringian Nordhausen Area of Germany

Comrades! Fellow Militants!

Your action of occupying the Company’s Factory “Bike System” for 116 days (from 10th of July to the 26th of October) and resuming bike production with the tag of “Strike Bike” in order to prevent the closing of the factory and subsequent unemployment of the workers has evoked confidence and pride for workers of the world including me as one of the worker-activists in Iran. You demonstrated with your action that if workers rely on their own power they are able to prevent the closing of the factory and the subsequent unemployment of the workers which is the outcome of the brutality of capitalism particularly in the form of Neo-Liberalism. You demonstrated that workers are not terrified by the label “wildcat strike” which was invented by the world capitalists to prevent the struggle of workers against capital. You also demonstrated that if the workers decide to self-manage the factory, it is managed better, that is, they are able to manage the production with a better quality and with fewer expenses. You demonstrated that if workers are united they are able to overcome the competition and division, which are the results of the capitalist system and make the workers to fight against each other instead of fighting against this system. You demonstrated that united workers are able to manage the production based not on profit but on the needs of society. Above all, your action demonstrated as an example and a model even a small one, that if workers unite and organize with their own power and subsequently make their struggle self-conscious are able to manage and direct the entire human society.

Fellow Class Members!

You are probably aware that workers at various points in time and in various places in the world are continually taking such actions. It was a few years ago that the Brukman textile factory workers in Buenos Aires, Argentina, occupied the factory, and they consequently forced both the government and the courts to recognize the self-management of the factory by the workers. Last year in Iran during the closing of many factories, in one of them, Lorestan Refrigerator Factory in the city of Khorramabad, this idea was present among the workers that the government was bound to provide the necessary facilities for workers so that workers could run production. Therefore, your action is one of the working class struggle traditions against capitalism in the entire world. However, the fundamental question is why do these kinds of anti-capitalist actions abate after a while or at most just delay the closing of the factory and unemployment of the workers? The question is why these brave worker actions at various points in time and in various places in the world are not tied together and are not turned into a radical force for the decisive prevention of the closing of the factory and the unemployment of the workers? The answer to this question in one word is that the workers do not have unity and organization that has the ability to push back the capitalist system and in the end to abolish it. The majority of the working class in the world (including the workers in Iran) are without organization, let alone organization independent of capital and its government. Furthermore, the other part of the working class in the world that is organized is under the rule of the reformist unions which do not intend to attack the capital. This obvious picture which at the same time is very real shows that for the emancipation of capitalist miseries including unemployment workers have no way out but to organize into an anti-capitalist organization.

Worker Comrades of “Bike System” Factory!

Right now, a number of the anti-capitalist activists in Iran have put their aims and activity to form a country-wide anti-capitalist working class organization. It is my duty as one of these activists, while sending my solidarity with your courage and bravery for occupying the factory and exerting the workers self-management, to invite you to form an anti-capitalist organization in your factory and attempt to connect with other anti-capitalist organizations in Germany in order to establish a country-wide anti-capitalist organization in Germany. Forming a Workers International as the flag-bearer of a humane world without class oppression requires this path to be taken.

Please accept my solidarity, and shake your hand modestly and wish for victory,
Mohsen Hakimi
Worker-Activist
Iran
November 4, 2007

againstwage said...

WORKER-ACTIVISTS IN IRAN ARRESTED

December 14, 2007: A leading member of the bus syndicate in Iran was recently arrested. Today, Mohsen Hakimi and four other worker-activists had gone to the custody to see what was occurring and when there, they too were arrested. At this point, it is uncertain as to what the specific charges are.

It is imperative to express support for these worker-activists and spread this information widely. These worker-activists need international support and solidarity. We will keep you posted as to what is happening and alert you when there is new information.

In solidarity,
Against Wage_Labour Collective Activists