Ago - 13 - 2014


Argentina.- This Wednesday  13th the workers of RR Donnelley put to work the machines without the lash of the yankee’s managers and employers. The comrades organized themselves and the machines started working one after the other. The Atlántida editorial, one of their most important clients, commit itself to keep sending their magazines to be printed there (Gente, Para Ti, Paparazzi, etc.)[1]

An euphoric atmosphere felt throughout the plant; like a worker told us: “We’re turning on the machines, there’s smoke all over the place, the company’s going to regret what it did”, and later he added “now we’re on our own and we’re proving we can do this and that it will be better than it was with the company”. “We’re rotating the shifts and there’s increasingly more unity, all of us do all the tasks, from watching over the gates and security to learning to do other jobs”. “We will cash in the fortnight for sure” said another worker, while another one told us referring to another person “that one’s a foreman, a company lapdog, who harassed us. Now he wants doesn’t know how to act, he’s not coming in, he doesn’t have the guts, he’s looking for a lawyer”.

On Monday 11th, the workers began to arrive and found the plant closed with a communication which said: “We are deeply sorry to inform you that faced with an insurmountable crisis and having considered all other viable options, we are closing operations in Argentina and requesting the company’s bankruptcy, after 22 years of activity in the country”.

The worker’s anger grew minute by minute; “the Company is not in crisis, it’s a lie” told us another worker. The numbers prove the workers right: The global profit of the multinational company was over 200 million dollars during 2013, which meant a raise of their profits of over a 5.5% worldwide.

The company’s been trying to impose salary cuts and worse working conditions; that’s why it presented a few months ago a crisis preventive settlement[2] which was rejected both by the national and provincial governments. The employer’s plan included firing of 123 workers: almost a 40% of the workforce. Facing the workers resistance and the impossibility to cutout, they chose the bankruptcy way.

The occupation

Monday was a day of doubts and anger. Since early in the morning a group proposed occupying the facilities to defend their jobs and to prevent the company from emptying the factory and taking away the machines. A slightly larger group wanted to wait for the government, taking into a count the illegality claims of the bankruptcy made by the workers themselves. The debate was whether to occupy or wait. In several opportunities the discussion was made and it was decided to wait for the audience in the La Plata[3] ministry at 4 in the afternoon. Well into the night the Ministry dictated the mandatory conciliation[4]. There were no more arguments and the comrades occupied the facilities in a pacific way and began to write a different story.


[1].-  Very popular magazines in Argentina, mostly about entertainment and gossip, but others aimed at primary school kids.

[2].-  In local law system, that refers to a possibility of factories to get a discount over taxes and to fire workers without having to indemnify them when they are about to go bankrupt.

[3].-  The capitol city of the Buenos Aires province.

[4].- A legal resolution taken by the Ministry of Employment that takes back the situation to the day after the conflict began (that means, with the factory open) and “forces” both workers and employers to negociate.

Socialismo o Barbarie Nº 300, editorial, 14/08/2014 (August 14, 2014)

Categoría: English