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A.1.b.ii. Factory Occupations

A nationwide movement of workers’ seizing and running factories may be part of a wider revolution, as in Russia in 1917, or potentially revolutionary movement, as in Italy 1918-1920. A recent example is the occupation of factories in Argentina as part of the popular resistance and organization from below in response to the collapse of the Argentine economy in November 2001 (covered in detail in Volume I of this bibliography, Section E. IV. 2.b.). As the economy recovered the popular movement tended to wane, but left a legacy of a significant number of worker owned factories.
Occupation of work places occurs during sit-in strikes, when the workers may takeover for weeks (there was, for example, a 77 day occupation in South Korea in 2009) in order to bring pressure on employers and/or governments. But this is distinct from workers taking over closing factories in order to maintain jobs and to run them in the workers’ interests, though some literature covers both.
There is a large literature on the theory and history of worker control and ownership and on noted contemporary examples, such as Mondragon in Spain. This section looks only at some examples of laid-off workers occupying their workplaces, either to prevent closure or to continue in operation under worker management.

Forging Links in Ozarow, In Notes from Nowhere, We Are Everywhere: The Irresistible Rise of Global Anticapitalism London, Verso, , 2004, pp. 450-455

On Polish worker occupation to prevent closure of a factory, supported by local community and anarchist groups.

Coates, Ken, Work-ins, Sit-ins and Industrial Democracy, Nottingham, Spokesman Books, 1981, pp. 175

An account of sit-ins or work-ins to prevent workplace closures in Britain in early 1970s, and an examination of subsequent experiments in workers’ control.

Greenwood, J., Worker Sit-ins and Job Protection: Case Studies of Union Intervention, Farnborough, Gower Press, 1977, pp. 121

Discusses sit-down strikes in Britain, the well-known occupation of the Lip factory in France in 1973 and West European sit-ins and work-ins protesting against redundancy.

McGill, Jack, Crisis on the Clyde: The Story of the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders, London, Davis-Poynter, 1973, pp. 143

Account of the 1971 ‘work in’ that took over shipyards threatened with redundancy and for a period maintained them under worker control and forced the government to delay closure.

Sherry, Dave, Occupy! A Short History of Worker Occupations, London, Bookmarks, 2010, pp. 157

Covers campaigns in Argentina, Chicago (USA), France, Ukraine, Turkey, Egypt, South Korea and China.