|Written by Marie Trigona|
|Wednesday, 15 August 2007|
| Argentina’s worker occupied factory movement is rallying across the country for a national expropriation law in the face of eviction orders and legal uncertainty. At the forefront of the worker recuperated enterprise movement is the BAUEN Hotel, just one of the 180 worker-run businesses up and running in Argentina. |
After four years of successful worker management, a federal court issued a 30 day eviction notice to the workers of the hotel on July 20. If the workers do not successfully block the eviction order legally or through political actions the hotel could be lost and 154 workers out of a job.
A network of worker run factories and worker organizations are mobilizing not only against the possible eviction of the cooperative from the BAUEN Hotel, but also for a long-term legal solution for the 10,000 workers currently employed at Argentina’s recovered factories and businesses. At worker assemblies and rallies, hundreds of workers without bosses are using the slogan: si tocan a uno, nos tocan a todos! (if they touch one of us, they touch all of us!)
Working without bosses
Just a week before the eviction notice was delivered workers could be heard in the comedor (cafeteria) talking about how to improve services for hotel guests. Over a lunch of roast beef and potatoes, reception workers discussed strategies for checking hotel guests in quickly to avoid back ups at the front desk during their busiest time of year, winter vacation in Buenos Aires.. These aren’t hotel managers strategizing how to make employees improve services in order to get a promotion. They are simply rank and file workers taking pride in their jobs and working to improve services for the benefit of the entire cooperative. Such conversations are common in the break room, an informal space where the workers can discuss administrative and personal issues that need to be resolved. Since the eviction notice, there was a dramatic shift in what is being discussed in the break room. Workers are now talking about how to defend their jobs and hotel by keeping services up and running, while focusing energy on the political fight to prevent the cooperative from being evicted from the hotel.
At a time when Argentina is just recovering from its 2001 economic crisis, during which thousands of factories closed down and millions of jobs were lost, the recuperated enterprises have created jobs. Gabriel Quevedo, president of the BAUEN cooperative says that the workers created jobs when investors and industrialists were fleeing the country. “The workers took on responsibility when the country was in full crisis and unemployment over 20 percent, where workers couldn’t find work. The workers formed a cooperative and created jobs, when no one believed that it was possible.”
Along with the other worker-run recuperated enterprises throughout Argentina, the BAUEN Hotel has redefined the basis of production and management: without workers, bosses are unable to run a business; without bosses, workers can do it better. This is the message of Pino Solanas, world renowned filmmaker. “BAUEN is a symbol of resistance and an example of creativity in society. At the BAUEN they have invented a way of managing a business successfully. This proves that a non-capitalist form of management is viable, in a society that has been in crisis.”
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