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Video
Workers buyouts and self-management: strengths and weakness of a social mouvement
December 23, 2016
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EuroWorkers' Economy 2016

The first international meeting “Worker’s economy” was held in 2007 in Argentina and brought together workers from workers’ takeover enterprises, political and social activists, trade unionists and academics.

Since then, the meetings are held every two years and are spaces for coming together, discussing and reflecting on the challenges faced by workers in their efforts to defend their livelihood through self-management, against the assaults of globalized capitalism.

The second Euro-Mediterranean meeting held in Thessaloniki, Greece, from Friday 28th to Sunday 30th October, 2016 gathered over 200 participants from many countries in Europe, Latin America, Turkey and even Syria, thanks to an online testimony of the struggle of the Kurdish community of the Syrian Rojava.

See the programme here.

The meeting focused on the struggles of workers to recover their enterprises, an act of resistance to capitalism that eliminates production units that are no longer profitable, i.e. do not yield satisfactory profits for expected investment returns.

The takeover is therefore firstly the way to preserve jobs, as well in the long term an instrument of social transformation and the creation of a new economy liberated from exploitation and turned to the satisfaction of social needs. It is a question of changing paradigms and replacing a predatory economy, based on the exploitation of workers by a basic needs and social justice oriented economy .

Many testimonies focused on the struggles and forms of organization adopted to reconvert businesses into self-managed cooperatives. The meeting took place in the VIOME plant that has been struggling since 2011, following the abandonment of the factory by employers, leaving workers without wages in a crisis context where unemployment reaches 30% of the population.  VIOME is still threatened with expulsion, the state having put the factory at auction. The resistance of workers is emblematic, supported by people of the region and far beyond. Moreover, it was the mobilisation of those sympathizers that allowed the meeting to be held in good conditions.

Testimonies were also members of Fralib (Marseille region, France), which after 1336 days of fighting the multinational Unilever (for the brand Elephant Teas) succeeded in creating the ScopTI cooperative, and to sell organic teas and infuses (the 1336 brand is now found in in bio-coops and other outlets of the solidarity economy).  Also factory worgers from Rima flow (the suburb of Milan) brought their experiences, as well as Kazova in Turkey or Campichuelo graphics and design cooperative in Argentina, Dita in Bosnia and Herzegovina and many others …

Besides these testimonies, participants were able to examine the values at stake. Thus, an Italian doctoral student expressed her findings under the prism of gender in the self-managed enterprises (where one sees no surprise that women also struggle to take their place in spite of the declarations of equality) and the control of emotions in groups not regulated by authority.  A group of refugee women who organize themselves to produce knittings and securing supplies in the camp where they are kept, testified to the harassing complications that the government introduced to limit their autonomy.

Self-Management was central of course, but also the processes of takeover of the common assets: re-municipalization of cleaning services in Madrid, rescue of beaches in Greece with the example of the Voula camping that was rendered to the inhabitants while the beach was threatened with privatization (everything is sold out in Greece).

Josette Combs, representing MES in Ripess Europe, intervened in the round table on “legal, social and political assistance structures that could help in the takeover of self-managed factories. What role can trade unions, international networks, legal consultants and solidarity movements play in the connection of struggles for self-management with their social and political context“, dedicated to the role of networks in support of takeover initiatives, where the debate also focused on the involvement of local communities with citizens in a spirit of support for the local economy.

The recurring discourse engages in the struggle needed to advance the self-managerial economy, continuously threatened by attacks from the imposed authorities or by the internal risk of departing from the initial spirit of horizontal and joint governance, still under the battering of the market which tries to helm the road to these atypical undertakings, which challenge the capitalist model of accumulation and exploitation of both producers and consumers.

Lots of energy and lots of fragility intermingled and a genuine warm brotherhood during these three days of exchanges that included local music and sales stands for the products of the cooperatives.

Josette Combes, MES

The new Greek law on SSE: progressing in the right direction
Greek Parliament Athens

At the end of October 2016 the Greek parliament voted for the new law 4430/2016 on the “Social and Solidarity Economy and the development of its actors”.

In our point of view, this law constitutes an essential progress for the development of SSE in Greece since it sets a framework of specific values and principles that define the actors, as SSE actors. More specifically, it disconnects the legal entity and the legal status as a precondition to be a SSE actor.

Read more

Greece: a bill on the SSE will soon be presented to Parliament
October 16, 2016
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Gréce, Greece

The Greek Government will soon present a Bill to the Parliament on the “Social and Solidarity Economy and the development of its agencies”, in order to expand to other forms of enterprises the scope of the 2011 Law on cooperatives, which no longer meets current needs.

This law will therefore focus on cooperatives, collaborative work as well as on mutual societies, associations and foundations.  According to  CECOP,, most of the provisions are actually to define and regulate social cooperatives and associated work.

 

The Greek Minister of Employment, Rania Antonopoulou, has set among the objectives of the law the development of  “all small businesses”, including those addressing needs of education, health, employment, environment and support to migrants.

Parmi les objectifs de la Ministre adjointe de l’Emploi, Rania Antonopoulou, qui porte cette loi, figure le développement des “toutes petites entreprises”, dont celles répondant à des besoins d’éducation, de santé, d’emploi, d’environnement et de soutien des migrants.

[Source: RTES]

A cooperative Call Center from Refugees to Refugees (R2R)
October 7, 2016
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R2R Afisa call center Greece

The phone line of the cooperative call service ‘Refugees to Refugees (R2R) Solidarity Call Center’ began to operate on Thursday 8th September 2016 in Greece. For three months now, 4 refugees (from Syria, Egypt, Morocco and Gambia) and people from the solidarity movement have been working cooperatively together, through open and democratic processes, in order to create a cooperative initiative that will provide information about transit, stay, or settlement in Greece, from refugees to refugees. This action will be an important milestone, because it is being developed by refugees themselves who speak the same language and have been through the same difficult experiences in transit.

Read more

Solidarity exports with Greece
October 7, 2016
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soli-oli campaign

During this summer (from July until September) the campaign of solidarity exports travelled to Berlin, after Belgium and Luxembourg through the cooperation of social organisations and SSE initiatives in Germany and in Greece. The “heart” of the campaign is how an alternative – fair and solidarity trade , without mediators with full access to all information about quality, origin, working conditions, environmental impact of the products is possible.

Read more

Refugees: community and grassroot solidarity initiatives are multiplying
April 2, 2016
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As the European “refugee crisis” is getting worse every day and governments react with emergency and short term strategies, mainly to contain the number of people entering the EU or keeping them in specific areas (with agreements that ignore human rights, such as the one between the EU and Turkey), more and more people are organising and welcoming those fleeing from war zones such as Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq.  Some cities as well have started to mobilise, such as Barcelona, which has created a system to inform, assist and involve refugees in a more open and democratic way. In Germany and Italy, many communities are moving and involving social solidarity economy initiatives to help refugees out of the emergency.

In Greece, Solidarity for all is working with many solidarity initiatives that are now concentrated on the issue.  There is also a Refugees’ Fund crowdfunding campaign, promoted by Fair CoopThis fund will focus on helping autonomous and self-managed projects involving refugees and solving their need to retain full control over the decisions made in their lives.
For example new settlements, and the creation of productive and holistic initiatives with which they can fulfill their material and immaterial needs on a daily basis, while offering something useful to the society in which they find themselves.
For contributions and more info click on this link: https://coopfunding.net/en/campaigns/refugees-fund-faircoop/

From GR-EXIT to GR-ENTRANCE: a solidarity campaign between Greece and Belgium
January 5, 2016
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by Georgia Bekridaki (Solidarity for All)

We are very pleased to announce that the exports solidarity campaign organized between Solidarity for All (Greece) and the organization Climaxi (Belgium) was successfully completed! The aim of the campaign was on the one hand to spread the word to the Belgian people and collectives for the socio – political situation in Greece and the consequences of austerity policies, on the other hand to get practical support from Belgian associations, trade unions, environmental groups, solidarity collectives to the Greek worker cooperatives and small producers

So we created a “Solidarity food box”, a “solidarity package” that includes traditional products from cooperatives and the natural soaps made by the workers of the recuperated factory of VIO.ME. The campaign was mostly addressed to unions like ABVV General Confederation of Workers, associations, environmental groups, political organizations, social centers where they ordered a total of 2.2 tons of products.

The difficult conditions prevailing in Belgium – because of the climate of fear and widespread militarism of their daily lives – the three weeks the campaign lasted from 08-27 / 11 brought us even closer. The collectives who participated felt that the actions of solidarity among peoples is the answer to the non-support of EU leaders against Greece on the one hand and against the causes that generate wars and xenophobia on the other.

The Greek products arrived on the 17.12 at Herzele and we met all the solidarity people who participated in the campaign. The next day we travelled in Leuven, where a very warm event took place. We discussed about the struggles and the solidarity movement which developed in Greece the last 5 years of memorandum, while at the same time our Belgian friends expressed their interest not only because they got to know about the experiments imposed in Greece, but because they could see the impact also in their own country.

It is worth mentioned that the 20% surplus of the campaign will be donated to solidarity initiatives (food distribution collectives) in Greece and for the creation of a counseling infrastructure for the support of solidarity economy initiatives.

Download the presentation: Greece solidarity_campaign_english.pdf

Greece: 1st meeting of the solidarity economy movement

Athens, 9 – 10 May 2015: The first nationwide meeting of the grassroots solidarity structures in Greece met with great success and large participation. More than 150 solidarity structures and many more activists and people interested in the solidarity movement, assemblied to workshops, debates and discussions for two days in the friendly environs of the Agricultural University of Athens.

Without middlemen distribution networks, food solidarity structures, solidarity clinics and pharmacies, educational solidarity groups, initiatives against house foreclosures, cooperatives  and other social and alternative economy collectives, from all over the country – from more than 30 municipalities and dozens neighboroughood of Athens and Pireaus – shared their common experiences and chalenges, seeking to shape their common future.

The debates were extremely productive in essentially deepening the positions of the movement, and also were very fruitful in new ideas about the inforcement of the solidarity movement. Among the axes of the deliberation were: the role and the dynamics of the movement in the new political conditions, new modes of organisation and the development of new constituent tools for the movement. The results of all the workshops and assemblies, as well as contributions to them, will be published in the coming days.

The workshops in the nationwide meeting have decided a next round of convergences, regional or field meetings and actions, as the next steps in networking, organising and spreading more the solidarity movement.

For more information and picture of the event: http://www.solidarity4all.gr/el/news/1st-nationwide-solidarity-structure%E2%80%99s-meeting

Greece: 3rd Festival for Solidarity and Cooperative Economy (10-12 October 2014)
October 9, 2014
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Athens, October 10-12 2014 – The #Festival4sce – or Festival for Solidarity and Cooperative Economy – is attracting more and more initiatives: for the third consecutive year at the Cultural Centre of Helliniko, for the first time this year foreign initiatives will be participating apart from the Greek ones. Including participants form the RIPESS Europe member networks, like Jordi Ribas (XES).

With the slogan “Another World Already Exists”, the  Programme Of The Festival is very rich and inviting.  Visit the Crowdfunding Campaign to support the self-financed event.  And the Facebook, Twitter and Youtube social network feeds…

“In a Greece of social, economic and environmental crisis, where the state social structures are collapsing and the commons are under threat,  where unemployment and economic distress are a reality for many of us… those to blame for the scam they call “the crisis” have not been held responsible for their crimes and the rotten promise of magical growth is still a repeated mantra.

But not all of us are sitting idle and settling for empty promises. On the contrary, we are participating more and more actively in groups and networks of solidarity, alternative exchange and cooperative economy, giving life to a world where human values count much more than profit making.

These projects, which are expanding across all over the country, do not only represent a way of survival in our everyday struggles, but also represent a society that has rejected the capitalistic system of values.

We, the groups that co-organize and participate in the Festival of Solidarity & Cooperative Economy, do not expect to cash our action in for votes, future earnings or social recognition, like other charitable or (non)social organisations that advertise their so-called “social action” do.

Our ultimate goal is to create social, and hence economic, structures that are based on people and not on profit. We don’t want to return to the Pre-Memorandum* times;  we foster instead self-organisation, self-sufficiency and true prosperity, regardless of economic indicators.

The large-scale participation in the first and the second Festival left a smile on our faces and a lot of food for thought as well as a strong willing for more action. Today we are preparing for the continuation of this effort, expanding frontiers and aiming at networking and exchanging experiences and concerns among groups, but also informing citizens about a different world, a world that is not only feasible and imperative, but one that already exists.”

Athens: RIPESS EU coordination meets with Greek solidarity economy movements
September 20, 2014
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Greece 15 sept 2014 meeting

Between September 14th and 16th 2014, the RIPESS Europe Coordination Committee met in Athens.  They were hosted by Solidarity4all and the Synallois cooperative. Two members of these organisations presented the Greek context during the RIPESS General Assembly that took place in June 2014, as well as the significance of their activities that are aimed at coping with the difficulties that the citizens who are victims of the financial crisis. The measures imposed by the Troika (which is what the Greeks call the European Union, the IMF and the World Bank) have lead to serious impoverishment of the Greek people, as well as a the rise of unemployment (factories and shops and services have closed down), as well as the degradation of working conditions in terms of job insecurity and low salaries. The Committee wanted to gain a deeper understanding of the situation, and meet with people who are organising the resistance to the degradation of living conditions.

The first day was dedicated to presenting RIPESS to the members of the various associations and cooperatives that have been springing up all over the territory. The principle of these meetings is to encourage dialogue between participants and help build strategies that will support citizens’ initiatives, so that there will be improved collective organisation as well as improved living conditions.

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