A short series of three documentaries on the self-managed factories of Europe made by militant film-makers Dario Azzellini and Oliver Ressler.
Occupy, Resist, Produce: VIOME / ΚΑΤΑΛΗΨΗ-ΑΝΤΙΣΤΑΣΗ-ΠΑΡΑΓΩΓΗ: ΒΙΟΜΕ
VIOME is a building materials factory in Thessaloniki, Greece, which was abandoned by its owners at the peak of the Greek crisis, in 2011. Subsequently it was occupied by its workers, and has been producing natural detergents under workers’ control since 2013. Despite being an emblematic and inspiring struggle, today VIOME is under imminent threat of eviction. Find out how you can get involved and be part of the struggle at viome.org.
Occupy Resist Produce – RiMaflow
RiMaflow, Milan, Italy
The Maflow plant in Trezzano sul Naviglio, located on the industrial periphery of Milan, was part of the Italian transnational car parts producer Maflow, one of the most important manufacturers of air conditioning tubes worldwide. Far from suffering consequences of the crisis and with enough clients to keep producing, Maflow closed in 2009 following fraudulent bankruptcy. The workers of the plant in Milan, Maflow’s main production facility, began a struggle to reopen the plant and keep their jobs. They occupied the plant and held spectacular protests on the plant’s roof. Because of their struggle Maflow was offered to new investors. In October 2010 the Maflow group was sold to the Polish investor Boryszew. Without ever restarting production the new owner closed the plant in Milan in December 2012 removing most of the machinery.
In February 2013 former Maflow workers occupied the plant, and together with precarious workers and workers from a nearby factory, which had been shut down after fraudulent bankruptcy. The 20 workers participating full time in the project completely reinvented themselves and the factory. They started recycling computers and electronic household devices, opened a bar and cafeteria, organize a flea market and cultural activities with the community, and have built alliances with local organic agricultural producers and together they have created a group for solidarity shopping. They plan to transform the factory into a plant for industrial recycling. As former Maflow worker Mariarosa Missaglia explains, their aim is to “get the factory back on its feet without an employer; show that even without an employer this can be achieved”. Her co-worker Antonio Galliazzo points out that this is not an easy task: “We are on the way to construct workers’ self-management, because self-management does not come from above. In this way, it is clear that we come across a number of weaknesses, things that do not work.”
At the same time the workers want to stay connected to other struggles. “We think our experience cannot be a happy island, where we get our income and organize ourselves,” explains Gigi Malabarba, worker and participant in RiMaflow, “We can win if we are part of a larger struggle and increase tenfold and a hundredfold experiences such as these, to nurture the idea that another economy is possible. If the economy of the bosses is in crisis, we need to develop a different idea of economics”. “Occupy, Resist, Produce – RiMaflow” follows the workers in their day to day activities and discussions as well as in their political and strategic debates.
OCCUPY, RESIST, PRODUCE – Officine Zero
Officine Zero, former RSI (Rail Service Italia) was dedicated to the maintenance and repair of sleeping cars. When in December 2011 Italian train services decided to stop the night train service and invest in fast track trains, RSI closed. Some 20 workers out of the almost 60 employees strong work force did not accept the closing and took up the struggle. They found support among the activists from the nearby social center, “Strike.” In February 2012 they occupied their work place. Together they started a laboratory on reconversion, organizing public assemblies attended by hundreds of people. The “crazy idea” of the Officine Zero was born. Precarious workers, independent workers, craftsmen, professionals and students joined the occupation. The mixture between old and new work forms, bringing together different precarious work situations, trying to overcome isolation and individualization is an important core idea of the project.
On 2 June 2013, Officine Zero was officially founded as an eco-social factory. Officine Zero means literally “workshops zero”: “zero bosses, zero exploitation, zero pollution”, as their new slogan says. The name also points out that they had to find a new starting point. “That was the idea of putting together a workplace without bosses,” Miriam Freschi explains in the film, who joined OZ coming from the social center, “the idea of reuse and recycle wasn’t just a new way of working, but also a way to invent a new system.”
In half a dozen workshops as carpentry, padding, metal works and general repairs the workers at Officine Zero dedicate themselves mainly to recycling domestic appliances, computers and furniture. The common project is to turn the former sleeping car repair facility into an industrial reuse and recycle center. OZ is administrated horizontally by all workers, from the workshops together with the precarious workers sharing an office floor in the former administration building. Former RSI worker and head of the padding workshop Giuseppe “Peppe” Terrasi underlines the democratic decision making: “We do it with assemblies, assemblies we all take part in, and not in closed assemblies where some people know what is happening and others don’t”. Metal worker Guido Abballe, main responsible of metal works and welding shop makes clear that OZ is about more than just defending a work place: “The reason we are here, that we are growing and luckily, though with many difficulties, we are carrying on is that we are trying to find a new system, a new way”.
“Occupy, Resist, Produce – Officine Zero” follows the workers’ activities, discussions and initiatives to gain back work, income and dignity by building a democratic and self-determined work place.
Directed and produced by Dario Azzellini and Oliver Ressler
Camera: Thomas Parb
Additional camera: Bernhard Mayr
Boom operator: Roberto Polenta, Oliver Ressler
Film editors: Dario Azzellini and Oliver Ressler
Sound design, re-recording mix and color correction: Rudolf Gottsberger
Special thanks to: Alioscia Castronuovo, Elisa Gigliarelli, Francesco Raparelli and Marina Sitrin
The project was funded partly through support of the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) AR 183-G21.
Co-production: Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (n.b.k.)
Thanks for support to the Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria