Vio.Me: Worker-Run Factory in Greece

I interviewed a Vio.Me worker in Athens in May 2016. I asked Kostas Charitakis why they didn’t have female workers; he said they’re tried to recruit them. They asked neighbors in Thessaloniki what products they needed, so the factory changed from toxic construction materials to making soaps. Charitakis said the old system is collapsing as explained by Naomi Klein in the Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (2008). Capitalism doesn’t allow for solutions, but the new is not yet born. The question on the minds of Vio.Me workers is should they try to change the state or bring it down? Democracy as it exists now is a lie and SYRIZA only talks but doesn’t act and wasn’t very supportive when the former factory owners attempted to sell the land in an auction. The national union doesn’t support them as the political parties control unions. The workers aim to open a new way with fresh ideas in small cracks in the system to replace the barbarity of capitalist competiveness. They’re interested in the models provided by the Zapatistas, the Spanish Revolution, communists, Kurdish Rojava and anarchists to build autonomy locally. They run their self-organized factory with equal wages for all, social insurance for sick leave, not aiming to make a profit, with excess going to charities. Vio.Me is governed in weekly meetings. They decide who will do what work in the coming week as they like to rotate jobs, although accounting is the tricky job. Supporters can attend but only workers can vote. When I asked what advice he would give to another factory, he said the General Assembly is the most important. Vio.Me meets with other recuperated factories, including two each in Italy, France, and Greece.

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