As a result of the legal battle waged against the workers of the occupied self-managed VIOME factory in Thessaloniki, Greece, the state-appointed trustee is now organising a series of auctions with the aim of liquidating the plot of land on which the VIOME factory is located. A possible sale of the land would create the legal ground for evicting the workers from the factory. Although the workers and the solidarity assembly are decided to stand their ground and defend the factory in all eventualities, the auction process represents a threat and it requires mobilisation in order to be prevented. A first step is to block, through direct action, the first such auction that is programmed for November 26th. This is why we reach out to you, to ask for help and mobilisation to put pressure on the government to satisfy the long-standing demands of the VIOME workers for legalisation of their activity, by expropriating the factory and granting it to the VIOME workers’ cooperative, which will operate it in a horizontal and self-managed way, as it has been doing for 3 years now.
We urge you to sign the below resolution by returning your details (name, collective, place) to email@example.com, or even better, hand it in to the nearest Greek embassy or consulate demanding that it is transferred to the Greek Ministry of Labour. We welcome any international acts of solidarity, especially ones that involve non-violent direct action towards Greek embassies worldwide.
We urge you to organise screenings of the below 30-minute documentary by D.Azzellini and O.Ressler, detailing the struggle of VIOME through interviews and participation in its assemblies (English subtitles included). Write to us if you want a good quality copy. You can send us announcements of your events, and/or photos to be uploaded to VIOME´s website, to firstname.lastname@example.org, thank you for your support,
The Assembly of Solidarity to the Struggle of VIOME for Self-management.
After being abandoned by the employers, the Factory of VIOME has been operating for nearly 3 years under workers’ control, through self-management by the workers’ assembly. Today, it constitutes an internationally emblematic struggle, which demonstrates that the real response to the crisis that leaves millions in poverty and unemployment is workers’ emancipation and a productive reconstruction based on society´s initiative and creativity.
The workers of VIOME, through the production of natural cleaning products in the premises of the occupied Factory, have proposed a new mode of production that responds to the needs of society, against exploitative labour relations and the drive for endless accumulation of capital.
Unfortunately, despite the promises of a series of governments to legitimise this important example of workers’ self-management, the workers of VIOME are now facing legal procedures that could lead to the liquidation of the factory premises and could threaten the continuation of the factory’s production.
We, the undersigned collectives and individuals, support the struggle of the workers of VIOME for employment, dignity and freedom against the judicial system that blindly serves the interests of the powerful.
We stand by their side in their decision to defend their productive endeavour by any means possible.
We warn the Greek authorities and the powerful business interests that oppose the VIOME struggle that an attack on VIOME is an attack on us all.
We demand that the Greek government stops the auction of the VIOME premises and that it offers a definitive solution by expropriating the land and granting it to the workers, on the condition that the factory keep operating under workers’ control and horizontal decision making.
We state clearly that we will not allow anyone to grab the factory from its legitimate owners, that is, the workers and the wider community. We will support this struggle in every step along the way.
The workers of VIOME will prevail, since they fight for the just cause of dignity and self-determination!
And here’s the film:
VIOME is a building materials factory in Thessaloniki, Greece, which was abandoned by its owners at the peak of the Greek crisis, in 2011. Subsequently it was occupied by its workers, and has been producing natural detergents under workers’ control since 2013. Despite being an emblematic and inspiring struggle, today VIOME is under imminent threat of eviction. Find out how you can get involved and be part of the struggle at viome.org
This is the third in a series of short documentaries on the self-managed factories of Europe made by militant film-makers Dario Azzellini and Oliver Ressler. Find the other two here:
Occupy, Resist, Produce – RiMaflow
Occupy, Resist, Produce – Officine Zero
You are free to organise screenings in your town and use this film for any non-commercial purpose.
The closing video clip is “At utopia’s fiesta” by Greek militant hip-hop collective Social Waste. It was filmed at the factory of VIOME. See the full version here:
That loyal mouthpiece of the establishment the BBC has taken to calling the migrant populations languishing in camps and at border posts “refugees and economic migrants”. In any halfway sympathetic pronouncement from the beleaguered political class, all complicit in smashing the infrastructure of five countries, the word refugee is usually prefaced with genuine. Somewhere in the fevered popular imagination lurks the spectre of the economic migrant, a worker from a less affluent country prepared to risk life and limb to reach the UK so they can drive a minicab or deliver pizza, or worse still, eke out a meagre living under the D.W.P.’s brutal benefits regime, or perhaps wait years for an operation on the NHS. Just how desperate would you have to be? Poverty is the worst form of violence, Ghandi once claimed, though I doubt he was the first to articulate that simple truth. Why then is it so despicable to flee this particular form? Swerve bullets and bombs all you like but hunger and disease must simply be endured. The reason is obvious, how else could you accept an economic regime that has a mere eighty individuals, sitting like a boil on the arse of humanity, wielding the same purchasing power as the poorest three and a half billion?
Never mind that if all British citizens living overseas returned, and all non-Britons left, there would be 1.3 million more people on the island, and we would have traded productive workers for retired bankers and bent car dealers. We learn nothing by evaluating these matters in terms of capitalist economics. There is no shortage of anything here, with a million empty homes and fifteen million tons of food thrown away annually. If the borders were torn down and resources allocated according to need, it would just show the politicians have been talking bollocks all along. Pidgin economics are a smokescreen for racism, on which the ruling class relies as much as it ever did to keep us in our separate little boxes. Working class radicals have no use for borders; we recognise they serve only the bosses, maintaining differentials in prices and wages that allow them to increase their mark-up.
So how’s this for economic migration? In 2002, capitalist James Dyson laid off five hundred and sixty workers in Wiltshire and moved his vacuum cleaner factory to Malaysia where he can hire people for £3 per hour. Well if we all work for that rate who’s going to buy his fucking vacuum cleaners at 300 quid a pop? Dyson had free school milk, free healthcare and a grant to further education, all provided by the working class. Developing the product, he was supported by his wife’s salary as an art teacher – try doing that in Malaysia! No liberal economist would oppose the free movement of capital, but if you decline to work for three quid an hour and move from Malaysia to Wiltshire expect to be pilloried for it. The economist knows that globalisation of capital requires globalisation of labour, but the bourgeoisie does not want free movement of labour; they must be able to control it through their tame politicians. Super-exploited groups are used to drive down wages and conditions at the bottom. As a bonus, this creates resentment and division in our class, diverting the blame for economic hardship away from the bosses. So-called ‘quality immigration’ of skilled personnel is nothing but a shameless pillage of the education systems of the poorest countries. The I.T. engineer from Mumbai and the doctor from Manila owe their expertise to the working class of those communities, without whom they would never have reached adulthood, let alone qualified.
“They’re taking our jobs” well they’re fucking welcome to mine; I’d gladly share it with them and have more time for something universally beneficial. Cash-rich corporations are reluctant to employ anyone in the dwindling range of increasingly futile tasks unless they will work for JSA or come heavily subsidised by the taxpayer. It’s hardly surprising; technology makes production ever less labour-intensive so profits – which only come from unpaid labour – fall. As the cost of living, especially accommodation, rises, so does the cost of maintaining the labouring capacity of the worker, and only once this cost has been met, by the capitalist or the state, does the remaining portion of their working day generate profit for the capitalist. So the bourgeoisie are happier investing their ill-gotten in something like Trident, that doesn’t have to compete in the marketplace. The decision to purchase will be made by wealthy politicians and the cost will be borne by taxpayers, the overwhelming bulk of whom will be working class. Any new technology developed on its budget will belong to the corporations, protected by patents. The politicians will subsequently take on directorships. Is it merely coincidence that the first public admission of the use of a British drone for extra-judicial execution coincides with the opening of the biennial DSEI arms fair in London?
Western capitalism was founded on primitive accumulation, the economist’s euphemism for armed robbery: the pillage of Latin America and the Indian sub-continent, the enclosure of indigenous lands, the transatlantic slave trade and a bit of opium-running. For four hundred years, the British Empire did precisely what Islamic state/daesh is doing now, only without the internet. Its state terrorism only ceased when its colonies achieved independence. During the 1950’s Britain maintained its rule in Kenya with concentration camps, summary execution, rape, torture and mutilation.
The Middle Eastern insurgent movements of my youth were aggressively secular and vaguely Marxist-Leninist in character. ‘Political Islam’ in its mediaevalist Wahabi form, was a tiny insignificant sect. This changed with the Russian invasion of Afghanistan; the fundamentalists were cultivated, both by Western capitalism, and its proxy, the Saudi ruling dynasty, who feared the loss of their privileged position as feudal proprietors. On the other hand, Baathist Iraq, in all its secular post-Stalinist despotism, was equally courted to oppose the regime in Iran that emerged from the popular revolution against the one the West installed to replace Mohammad Mosaddeq after he nationalised Anglo-Iranian oil (now BP). Iraq had a million men under arms at the end of that war, the fifth largest standing army in the world. Following the Western invasion they were given a month’s pay and sent home. That, plus Iraqi Sunnis interned during the occupation is now daesh in Syria. In 1930’s Spain a similar totalitarian theocracy was born when British duplicity and incompetence allowed General Franco to opportunistically unite his reactionary officer corps with the fascist Falange party, religious fanatics, greedy landowners and a venal clergy.
Why all the history? Because it’s still being made! These fools brought chaos to the Middle East and terrorism to New York and London; they will deliver us World War Three if we let them.
Nevertheless the politicians have been left in the dust by the popular reaction to events. Without waiting to be asked, working class people have organised to gather and deliver aid to the camps or drive refugees illegally into Europe. Some of the most intrepid have volunteered for the militia of autonomous Rojava at the front line against daesh and their Turkish ally. Back home in our towns and villages, we attack thieving bosses and slum landlords, resist gentrification and austerity, foil workfare, eviction and deportation, and one by one, hound the fascists from our community. Our deeply divided society is steaming purposefully in two opposite directions; the one towards a life based on mutual aid and solidarity; the other perpetuating selfishness, greed, commodity fetishism and alienated wage labour. When the two meet again it will be for a fight to the finish. It’s time to choose your future and pick your side.