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• Argentina

Factories recovered by workers

Since the year 2000 the workers in Argentina decided to not leave the factories closed for bankruptcy or because abandoned by their owners, organising themselves in Cooperatives to retrieve the production. Today 20.000 employees manage more than 300 recovered factories throughout the country, and they are organised into the National Movement of the Recovered Factories (N.M.R.F.),

These factories recovered by the workers are competitive today in the national and international market. The same factories which collapsed under the traditional management systems, work in many different sectors such as cattle refrigerators, pig and poultry; textile and clothing; heavy and light metals; food such as bakery, cold meat and confectionery; health care such as hospitals and clinics; paper mills, tanneries, footwear, printing presses and newspapers; shipyards and construction.

The National Movement of Recovered Factories is an NGO established in 2001 following the most serious socio-economic crisis of Argentinean history which, among other consequences, caused a massive closure of the factories by bankruptcy or abandonment by the owners. More than 3.000 factories have been disrupted in the whole territory, leaving the workers unemployed at home. This situation led to the waste of a huge patrimony in terms of high technical capacities and skills of the workers, with 20 or 25 years of experience, while the machineries and equipments became useless within the closed factories.

Faced with the reduction of salaries, the lost of social benefits, the lack of pension contributions, of welfare, improper retention of wage deductions, stop-over and application of employment flexibility, the workers organise themselves. First of all they decided to remain at their job places, declaring on strike for their constitutional right to claim for all their owed salaries and all other breaches by the employer. At the same time, workers in these factories choose to organise themselves in Cooperatives with innovative ways and means compared with the traditional cooperatives experience.

Considering the ten-year successful process for revitalising the factories by their workers, and the increasing demand by the Movement, in 2011 the Government of Argentina approved the Decree for the reform of the Bankruptcy Law. This Law, representing a fundamental attained goal of the Movement, foresees mechanisms that facilitate the revitalisation processes of the factories and mechanisms to balance the worker’s credits that allow the acquisition of machinery, raw materials, goods and other consumables necessary to the production.

From its side the Movement established a solidarity fund of Recovered Factories, through which the more consolidated cooperatives provide part of the wages of their workers to the other arising cooperatives.

The experience of Argentina generated a wide International interest. In the wake of the crisis affecting the economies of many countries, both industrialised and least developed, this new model of response of the workers to the closure of the factories for bankruptcy or after the owners’ abandonment represents an innovative and replicable way of action. Actors and people from more than eleven countries have been visiting the factories of the Movement, expressing their interest in promoting this innovative process within their national contexts.

The Movement of Recovered Factories is available to share its knowhow and experience with actors from any country interested in promoting the workers’ revitalisation processes of the factories.