Argentina

Zanon: Workers’ management and the energy crisis

July 03, 2007

The assemblies decide:

Raúl Godoy, assistant secretary of the ceramics workers’ union of
Neuquén (SOECN) and a worker at Zanon, a factory under workers’
control, gives us answers about the proposals by the ceramics workers,
faced with the energy crisis, and about the invited article they
published in the regional dailies.

How is the energy crisis affecting Zanon?

Raúl Godoy: Look, as we say in the invited article, we published in
the provincial daily papers, we are familiar with the announcements
and threats of power cuts, that affect all factories. But we are
workers’ management and not employer’s management. Although we had to
stop some lines, our response does not tolerate making the workers,
ourselves, pay for the crisis, as the bosses are doing. We believe
that the employers should pay for the crisis. We opened the debate in
the assembly, with the workers’ method, and several solutions arose
from there. First, to take internal measures to cut back consumption
as a matter of solidarity with the community because the emergency is
reducing gas in schools and hospitals. Moreover, we have to do that to
avoid fines or compulsory reductions they will force on workers’
management, rather than on other enterprises, as we have already been
notified. In addition to this, we are going to respond in the street,
by mobilizing this Thursday, June 28 in Neuquén. And, to explain it to
the community, the idea is to publish this invited article discussing
what we think in Zanon. That is why we denounce the policy of
privatization that the national government continues to follow, and we
call on the workers’ organizations to confront the suspensions,
rotations and threats of lay-offs. We have a pending discussion about
the most fundamental way out. Some of the union leaders and I think it
is necessary to fight for the re-nationalization of the natural
resources, of gas and oil, without compensation and under workers’
control. We are debating this proposal.

To the community, faced with the energy crisis

WE, THE WORKERS AND THE PEOPLE, CANNOT AND OUGHT NOT PAY FOR THE
CRISIS WE DID NOT CAUSE

Once again, crisis is hitting many sectors of the community. Energy is
lacking, both electricity and gas. This scarcity is not owing to the
lack of natural resources, but to the policy of years of
privatizations when one government after another "plundered" and
"surrendered" our resources to the privatized enterprises whose only
interest is earning money; nothing else matters to them.

Millions of families now have no natural gas (9,000,000 families use
gas cylinders, and thousands use firewood). In many schools, hospitals
and public places, energy scarcity has begun to be noticeable, with
class hours being reduced and even discussion of beginning vacation
sooner.

In several enterprises, and it could not be otherwise, the bosses are
trying to make workers pay for the crisis, with suspensions, special
rates according to schedule, layoffs, etc.

Workers’ management at Zanon cannot and ought not confront the crisis
like any other factory.

As the whole community knows, Zanon under workers’ control (Fasinpat
[factory without bosses] - temporary co-operative -) is not just
another factory. We have struggled for almost 6 years, keeping the
factory on its feet with 470 families working and putting the factory
at the service of the community. During these years neither the
provincial government nor the national government has given a solution
to our demand for expropriation once and for all.

Like a community, workers’ management lives day to day. Even so,
conditions impose on us, rates of 600,000 pesos [$193,992.59 US], and
taxes as if we were businessmen. We have to pay bills for electricity
and gas at enormous prices, for instance, 25,000 pesos per month
[$8,083.45 US] as a deposit on the gas. This sum, paid not just by us,
but by the entire population, would theoretically be set aside for
infrastructure repairs, which are never performed. Or, as has been
scandalously announced, they are bribes, as in the case of Skanska.

The privatized companies, the consecutive governments that have
continued the policy of privatizing, and businessmen that have
benefited all these years, should be held responsible and should be
made to pay for [the energy crisis]. Our workers’ organizations cannot
permit them to reduce our rights.

We call on all workers’ organizations not to permit lay-offs,
suspensions or reductions of rights.

We say that natural resources belong to the people. [The bosses]
should no longer pass hardships along to us workers and our families.

Once again, we from workers’ management are demanding the
expropriation of the factory, once and for all, to put an end to these
constant threats created by these governments and these policies.

We are demanding allowances for energy, both for electricity and gas
for workers’ management, and for the families who need it.

We are calling the whole community to the mobilization on Thursday,
June 28, to demand solutions and that [the bosses] should pay for the
energy crisis, not the workers and the people.

WORKERS OF ZANON UNDER WORKERS’ CONTROL -
CERAMICS WORKERS’ UNION OF NEUQUEN.

Translation by Yosef M.