From Solidarity 3/21, 11 January 2003
By Paul Hampton
Sixty people heard the inspiring story of the occupied Zanon factory in Argentina at a London meeting organised by the Argentine Solidarity Campaign in December.
Natalio Navarrete from the Ceramic Workers' Union, Neuquèn, and Mariano Pedrero, the union's lawyer, spoke about the events that led workers to take over their ceramics factory in October 2001, and their struggle to re-open the plant under workers' control.
The workers were about to be sacked but instead of throwing up their hands, they took direct action, taking over the factory. After nearly a year of production, they are now able to pay themselves wages of $800 per month - everyone gets the same amount. And in a great sign of solidarity, the factory has recently taken on some unemployed workers, returning the solidarity shown them by fellow workers outside the factory.
The Zanon workers have faced several attempts to evict them, which they have successfully prevented. There are about 150 workplaces under occupation in Argentina - some of them are managed as co-operatives - and Zanon has been an example for workers throughout the country.
The Zanon workers were on the last leg of a speaking tour, principally in Italy, at the invitation of trade unions. They spoke at a large meeting of Fiat workers, receiving a big donation from car workers who recognised the importance of the Zanon struggle.
The Argentine Solidarity Campaign has organised dozens of protests to highlight the terrible situation in Argentina and how workers are fighting back.