Friday, July 15, 2005

Workers Control in Venezuela

I researched this post to go as an entry for the carnival of the uncapitalists - but I didn't have life enough and time to complete it before the deadline.

Now, it seems that the Chavez government has been instituting workers control - they have nationalised Venepal - a paper making company. Now, apparently, this is at the bequest of the firm's workers, who occupied the plants and kept them running after it went bankrupt.

This apparently stems itself from a resurgent union movement spearheading demands for workers management.

Apparently the Venepal deal is for co-management. With the stakes being 51-49 (If I'm reading the article right) in the Government's favour. Of course, in these sorts of deals that 1% is actually 100% because it means, presumably, the government officially always gets its way (unless striking workers stop it, that is).

For balance, before striking off to my own conclusions, here is the voice of a critic suggesting that the firm may not be economically viable anyway - it'll be interesting to come back in, say, five years, and find out.

Anyway, my interest in this is that nationalisation under workers control is a regular demand of the left, specially when firms are going under - now it is being put into practice and we will be able to see how well it works, if it does.

But clearly, it brings up the question of what is workers control? Sometimes it's just a suprervisory question, workers deciding how to implement instuctions like a secretary deciding how to layout a letter. Or it can mean the workers own and run the firm and make strategic decisions for themselves. The late Maurice Brinton looks at the question in his Bolsheviks and Workers Control - a pamphlet that seems to never go out of date.

4 Comments:

Anonymous P.M.Lawrence said...

This is from my memory too, but I think the quotation you were alluding to went "...had we but world enough and time/this coyness, lady, were no crime...". It goes on with something about until the conversion of the Jews, too. Donne, was it? Certainly one of the metaphysical poets.

10:27 AM  
Blogger Bill said...

Actually, you're memory is better than mine, your quote's right, but it's Marvell, not Donne...

10:56 AM  
Anonymous mc said...

A lot of things can work out in the short term if one gets to take an asset from the owner, split it 51-49 with the government to keep it sweet, and proceed to turn out widgets. The workers' share should feed them for a while, but one day they'll be a liability on Chavez's balance sheet, which is pretty amusing.

8:53 PM  
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10:17 PM  

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