- By Vangelos Lagos
We wrote recently about the Viomichaniki Metaleftiki (Industrial Mining – Vio.Me) factory in Thessaloniki, Greece. The factory re-opened under workers’ control after it was abandoned by its owners. We have been in touch with the Vio.Me workers to ask how best be can support them.
Above is a statement from the union president, Makis Anagnostou. Click on captions to enable English subtitles.
We asked them what sort of support Vio.Me workers needed the most, and this is what they said:
1. Political Support
According to them, this is their most urgent and pressing need. They can operate the factory, they already have many orders, they can even open their production to environmentally safe glues. However, they are concerned about their legal position, which makes it difficult to operate: they don’t have an officially recognised right to run the factory. Also, their co-operative is saddled with debts incurred by the previous owner.
The previous owner is attempting to set up a temporary management structure to officially default the company which will be liquidated against its creditors and suppliers leaving the workers unpaid.
The Vio.Me workers have submitted an offer to buy the company’s shares but the Ministry is delaying the process although there are no other offers.
In addition the Ministry of Labour has not responded to their claims for the money owed to them by the previous owner. They submitted an appeal at the end of November to be recognised as eligible for an allowance against the amount owed by the owner, but there has been no response yet.
There is also a pressing need for the development of a legal framework for the operation of such co-operative businesses in Greece.
2. Emergency Economic Support:
Since the strategy of the Greek state so far has been delaying the necessary for the workers regulations and decisions, the workers face now dramatic economic problems. They find it very difficult to make ends meet as the previous owner left them unpaid and they are practically unemployed.
They have the support of other unions, initiatives, communities and social movements but as this situation goes on, it is even more difficult to cope. So again, political pressure will help them most because it will allow them to be back in business.
However, and due to the delaying strategy of the Greek government they need also emergency economic support until they can officially put the factory in production.
The Vio.Me workers would welcome financial donations to help them through this time.
At USi, we will be looking at practical ways to support Vio.Me workers, particularly to put pressure on the Greek government to recognise their right to run the factory.
If you have any ideas and would like to be involved in developing this support, please be in touch.
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