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Co Operatives Have A Dual Identity, Existing Simultaneously As A Social Movement And An Economic Enterprise. To What Extent Has The Recovered Fac...

1229 words - 5 pages

The rise of the recovered factory movement in Argentina seems to have been born not for economic enterprise, or of a great desire for social movement and gain, but out of desperation and starvation. Personal accounts in Sin Patron tell not of a revolution for its own sake but of a workforce doing "anything to survive" (Collective, 2007, p. 56). Far from reveling in the absence of leadership these working women often found themselves destitute and wishing for the return of the bosses to their occupied factories (Collective, 2007, p. 64). The interviews often show not of an expectation for the factories to become the collective property of the occupiers but of an expectation that the owners would return (Collective, 2007, p. 69).

To take over a failing business in a time of national bankruptcy, such as Argentina was facing in 2001, is a questionable economic decision at the very least. The factories which were occupied were on average 40 years old and in disrepair (sometimes intentionally on the part of the original owners) and combined with the strict rules on occupation, the transfer of debt, and the compensation of original owners in Argentina it would appear to be near enough economic suicide. Yet of the 200 factories that were initially occupied only 2 have failed and been forced to close. This success in the face of economic turmoil pays testament to the compatibility of economic enterprise within a social movement.

. Despite these unquestionable struggles many of the occupied factories succeeded in, not only drastically improving the welfare of its workers but also, either maintaining or increasing production within the factories. The economic successes of many of these businesses are undeniable in one factory alone there was "Increased production, profits and the workforce from 240 when they took over the factory to 400 in 2004" (Collective, 2007), showing that whatever their aims, the economic enterprise of the businesses seemed to be winning through. This improvement may have been a side effect and not an aim of the recovered factory movement Zanon for example increase the production from just 20000 to 300,000 from ownership by the capitalist to collective ownership by the cooperative. Increased incentive the workforce may have played a significant part in this, having a share in the business is success rather than just a wage packet will motivate workers to produce higher levels. The successes of the taken factories were not just seen through increased productivity and workforce sizes but also remarkable increases in factory safety, Zanon’s accident rate was decreased 89% from 300 after the takeover by the co-operative and not a single death occurred despite previous rates of one a month. This shows the cooperatives devotion to well-being of their members.

However the movement faced issues of involvement as Matilde Adorno said in Sin Patron the workers “Couldn't make ends meet on a dream" and that while ideologically...

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