An abandoned building materials factory in Greece’s second largest city, Thessaloniki, has been taken over by its workers. With support from their community and around the world, the workers have organized, mobilized and voted in general assemblies to restart production under democratic workers’ control. This is similar to what happened in Argentina following its economic crash in the early 2000s. Argentina’s experiments in worker control were explored in The Take, a gripping documentary by Canadian journalists Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis.
Workers control in Greece provides a glimpse of a real democratic alternative for how the Greek economy can be reorganized. Recent Greek governments, whether the traditional conservatives of New Democracy, or the so-called socialists of PASOK, have continued to implement severe austerity measures directed primarily against the working-class majority, migrants, and the poor. Wages, benefits, employment, the social safety net and even basic living requirements such as food and shelter have all been slashed. Much like the austerity measures being implemented around the world to balance budgets following massive bailouts of financial institutions in 2008 and 2009, the Greek elites are committed to making the population pay the costs of a debt crisis they didn’t cause.
Workers control is also an alternative to the frightening prospect of the fascist Golden Dawn party, which has been targeting immigrants with gangs, attacking those protesting the government’s austerity measures, and generally unleashing a wave of violent racist nationalism across the country that is feeding off the despair caused by the mainstream parties in power and the failures of our present economic system to put people ahead of profits.