Zanon victory; US union recognition law setback; Korean occupation ends; Chilean miners' strike
Workers at the occupied Zanon ceramics factory in Neuqen, Argentina, have won a major legal victory. The provincial parliament has voted 26 to 9 to accept that the factory is expropriated and handed over to the workers’ co-operative to manage legally and indefinitely.
The workers of the Zanon factory in Argentina occupied the factory in 2001, following a boss’s lock-out, and have run it since then under workers’ control. The workers renamed the factory FASINPAT (Factory without a Boss).
In the UK the No Sweat anti-sweatshop campaign championed the workers’ fight to hold on to their factory, and our paper, Solidarity, covered the struggle extensively.
Raul Godoy, a Zanon worker, declared: “This is an important chapter in the struggle of the Zanon workers, who have been fighting in the streets for more than nine years. First they tried to evict us in order to auction off the factory. But the workers’ struggle and the community pressured the government to expropriate the factory.”
200 factories continue to be run under workers’ control in Argentina.
USA: Employee Free Choice Act
Democratic Senators “friendly” to the US unions have decided to drop a central provision of a bill that would have made it easier to organise workers.
The so-called card-check provision — which senators decided to scrap to help secure a filibuster-proof 60 votes — would have required employers to recognise a union as soon as a majority of workers signed cards saying they wanted a union. Currently, employers can insist on a secret ballot, and make it almost impossible for the uinon to win that vote.
In the US the abandonment of card check is being described as another example of the power of right-wing, “moderate” Democrats to block their party’s more liberal wing.
Korean occupation ends
Ssangyong Motor Company was able to restart production on Thursday 13 August following the workers’ occupation that had lasted for 77 days.
Workers were fighting company plans to sack 36% of the workerforce.
Police dropped tanks of tear-gas from helicopters on strikers, and helicopter-borne police commandos fought pitched battles with workers in a series of raids to reclaim parts of the factory. Police and company thugs also attacked workers’ supporters outside the factory.
More than 100 people were injured in the clashes.
However the police were unable to overrun the section of the factory which contained highly-flammable paints. 500 workers remained defiant, pledged to defend their occupation.
Workers responded to police violence with firebombs, and fired nuts and bolts from slingshots.
The occupation ended following an agreement between the workers and management. The company agreed to keep half the workers at the plant rather than lay them all off. “I am sorry that we could not get a better deal, but I am proud that we fought hard,” said union organiser Moon Jae-myong.
However 96 of the 458 workers that turned themselves over to police on the night after the occupation ended were not released. Many are facing criminal charges, including union leaders.
The militant Korean Confederation of Trade Unions and its affiliate, the Korean Metal Workers’ Union, are also facing a half-million dollar lawsuit from the police.
103 miners from Tambillo, a small mining village in the region of Coquimbo in Chile, have been on official strike since 1 May.