[The following venezuelanalysis article by Michael Fox contains excerpts from a dialogue between workers at co-mananged and self-managed enterprises, upon viewing the screening of the documentary, 5 Factories - Worker Control in Venezuela. The workers discuss the problems and advantages of the transformation of their workplaces. --Ed]
5 Factories - The Voices of Venezuelan Workers
By Michael Fox – Venezuelanalysis.com
September 06, 2006
There is no narrator, no music in the film. Only the voices of the workers and the whining, grinding, droning hum of the factories’ machines. And there is little doubt that the workers would ask for nothing less. After all, that is what the Venezuelan processes of cooperativism and co-management (co-gestion) are all about: giving voice and power to the workers. Or at least that’s what they propose to be.
On Monday, August 28th, the debut showing of 5 Factories, 2005, a film by Oliver Ressler and Dario Azzellinni, was held in the Terresa Carreño Theater in Caracas, Venezuela. It was attended by dozens of workers from the factories depicted in the film, along with other members of recuperated businesses, cooperatives, and state-owned enterprises attempting to work towards co-management with the workers.
After the film, the audience was invited to remain and enter into a dialogue about the film, and the current Venezuelan movements towards worker ownership and control. The following are excerpts of that dialogue.
Participant 1: Truly this motivates us to continue to work towards, and achieve our proposals, particularly the message to consolidate the revolution and achieve the goal of socialism of the 21st century. That’s it. The consolidation of this process will come with unity, and we are going to achieve it.
Alcasa worker:Good day. It appeared as though the workers themselves became the owners of the business Invepal, which means that they are actually heading towards capitalism, right? And if not, can you clarify that?
Nestor Rodriguez, Inveval worker: I also have a worry, like the companion of Alcasa, in all of these types of events, which focus on the worker’s ownership of the shareholding system, but wouldn’t it be better that in the shareholding system, there were better state representation and the better state representation be the spokesperson of the community council that represent the community, in order to first guarantee as good functioning of the business, and not permit that deterioration, but it would also mean a good use of the resources to ensure that they are more viable, more concise and do not create a repartition of these recourses by a board of directors that doesn’t have the same vision as the community. Many of the state officials have their own work within the government itself, and this makes the direct participation within the business itself impossible, so this has created a series of problems. And we say with co-responsibility there are certain weaknesses within the business that us as workers must learn to take on, and look for the solution.
Dario Azzellini (film director): Just to clarify so that everyone knows what the companion [from Alcasa] mentioned. In Invepal, there were absolutely problems, the companion from Invepal [in the film] said that they are not going to forget and are not going to contract people, but it turns out that, I guess [some of those responsible in Invepal] forgot and they contracted nearly 300 people that instead of forming part of the cooperative, they were given contracts as workers, and were even paid worse than the rest. We didn’t comment anything, and this case had not been discovered when we filmed. We didn’t make any comments, but just presented various examples of attempts that they are trying out, of co-management and of worker control, etc. I think it’s a very necessary debate and it’s very obvious that changing one owner for many owners doesn’t change much. It doesn’t change the structure of capitalism, of exploitation, of the logic of the production just because you change one owner for many. But we also know that the fact that the state is the owner of something also doesn’t guarantee us a lot. So I think it’s a very necessary debate to think how to organize control in the society. So the debate is open and I think it’s necessary to get to new models, new forms and experiment with that.
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