That is the slogan for workers in Argentina who have taken over factories left vacant by foreign investors. Workers occupy the factory and turn on the machines to start manufacturing goods then they form their own company to sell the goods. They’re cutting out the middleman called the multinational corporation while reclaiming their own jobs back. This idea seems to be influencing other workplaces.
The movement of recovered companies is not epic in scale – some 170 companies, around 10,000 workers in Argentina. But six years on, and unlike some of the country’s other new movements, it has survived and continues to build quiet strength in the midst of the country’s deeply unequal “recovery”. Its tenacity is a function of its pragmatism: this is a movement that is based on action, not talk. And its defining action, reawakening the means of production under worker control, while loaded with potent symbolism, is anything but symbolic. It is feeding families, rebuilding shattered pride, and opening a window of powerful possibility.
Like a number of other emerging social movements around the world, the workers in the recovered companies are rewriting the script for how change is supposed to happen. Rather than following anyone’s ten-point plan for revolution, the workers are darting ahead of the theory – at least, straight to the part where they get their jobs back. In Argentina, the theorists are chasing after the factory workers, trying to analyse what is already in noisy production.
These struggles have had a tremendous impact on the imaginations of activists around the world. At this point, there are many more starry-eyed grad papers on the phenomenon than there are recovered companies. But there is also a renewed interest in democratic workplaces from Durban to Melbourne to New Orleans.