Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Argentina's Workers' Cooperatives

From chicago.indymedia.org:
"After the 2001 economic crash in Argentina, around 200 bankrupt and closed-down business were occupied and then taken over by their workers. Most of these workers formed cooperatives to manage the business without the boss, and run it themselves. Eventually, dozens of these "recovered" businesses were granted legal recognition by the government, which used eminent domain to transfer ownership from the original owners to the worker coops, giving a 20-year mortgage at favorable lending terms.

As it turns out, "recovered" businesses are doing rather well. They've discovered that the previous owners were pretty much unnecessary for running the business; ditto with top management. Most of the working people are paid at least as well as they were before the takeover, and many are getting paid more. In any case, it seems to be a good way to put a business back to work quickly, in a way that preserves peoples' jobs. Basically, the state settles the bankruptcy on its terms, in effect nationalizing the business, and then appoints the productive workers to run it. Perhaps the 20-year loan could be based on the amount of the outstanding credit settlement."

You can read more about how Argentina's workers' took charge and put bankrupt factories back into business here on globalexchange.org.

Naomi Klein, author of anti-corporate brand bible "No Logo" has also co-written a forward for the book "SIN PATRON: Stories from Argentina's Worker-Run Factories". Klein and her husband Avi Lewis write, "Argentine workers borrowed the slogan, "Occupy, Resist, Produce" from Latin America's largest social movement, Brazil's Movimiento Sin Terra, in which more than a million people have reclaimed unused land and put it back into community production."

I had written in an earlier post about Cambodia's property speculators and how these people are helping to destroy Cambodia's economy, by creating a lot of unproductive land, land which could otherwise be used instead of just left "sitting there" waiting for the price to rise. Governments should tax property speculators, or "flippers" because land should be used productively, to create jobs, because, as the globalexchange.org article mentioned above notes: "Work is key to staving off poverty".

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