One of the key themes of this blog since we began in June 2011 is the sorry state of workers’ resistance in New Zealand. By-and-large workers here prefer to lay down and be walked over than to stand up and fight. Announcements of workplace closures are more likely to be met with tears and counselling than with “No, we’re not accepting this shite”. It is like two generations have been enfeebled.
It doesn’t have to be like this. There are all kinds of ways of fighting back. Closure threats, for instance, can be met with occupations. Occupations challenge the property rights of bosses. Occupying means workers – the people who have created the new, expanded value from which profit comes – asserting their right to work. In effect, it is saying “We produce the wealth, we don’t recognise your ‘right’ to take away our jobs and income; given that you obviously can’t run the workplace, we will.” Occupations are a much more advanced form of struggle than strikes because, instead of just going home, or standing around outside the workplace, we are inside and running it.
Occupations become schools for workers’ control and workers’ management of workplaces and, if undertaken across the society, for a new form of society altogether. One in which those who produce the wealth own and control the means of production, along with developing new means of distribution and exchange.
Occupations help transform workers’ sense of their own capabilities and their political consciousness.
Below are just a handful of examples of workers’ occupations, from Dublin to Sydney to Buenos Aires to Thessalonika.
Workers occupy Paris Bakery, Moore St, Dublin
When workers occupied – the Cockatoo Island occupation of 1989 Factory takeover in Argentina sees discussions on workers power, women’s liberation Greek lessons: workers occupy factory, continue production Video on the Vio.me struggle Greek factory: “the machines of self-management have been turned on” Workers’ self-management only solution: interview with spokesperson for the Vio.me occupation Lessons of a factory occupation, Laurence Scott, Manchester 1981