By Pablo Velasco
A former textile worker who posted online reports about a protest demonstrations by steel workers in Chongqing has disappeared and is believed to be in police custody.
Shi Xiaoyu was taken away by police from his home in Shaoxing, Zhejiang province, on 20 October, according to Chinese human rights groups. Police arrested him, confiscating his computer and other materials.
Shi had been posting information about steel workers’ protests, which began in August this year. The workers were demanding that the company, which used to be one of China's top 500 industrial companies but was recently declared bankrupt, should pay them 2,000 yuan each in severance payment for their loss of employment. The Chongqing police cracked down violently on the workers’ demonstration on 7 October, reportedly causing the deaths of two women protestors. Twenty four demonstrating workers were injured and three of their leaders were detained the same day.
• More information: www.china-labour.org.hk
Over 150 representatives from several worker-occupied factories and other Venezuelan organisations met on 21-22 October in the capital Caracas to discuss the future direction of the “co-management” movement.
The meeting was hosted by the new trade union federation UNT and attended by government ministers, academics and trade unionists. At the conference UNT national coordinator of Marcela Maspero said that the government intends to bring up to 700 more factories into the co-management scheme, “to generate production, value and employment.”
There are a number of occupied factories in Venezuela, notably the Alcasa aluminium plant, the electricity supplier CADAFE and paper company Invepal.
The first meeting of Latin American Worker Occupied Factories also took place on 26-28 October in Caracas. Representatives from 21 trade unions and 235 worker-occupied factories from 13 Latin American countries participated. Venezuela president Hugo Chávez addressed the conference, which was also attended by ministers and government functionaries from across the continent.
Co-management includes everything from cooperatives and state ownership with some worker participation to elements of workers’ control. In Venezuela, it is at best top-down state capitalism or involves loss-making companies being incorporated into state ownership. It is a long way from genuine workers’ control, never mind an integrated system of workers’ self-management.