Germany: Bicycle plant under workers control

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Caiman del Barrio
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Sep 24 2007 18:28

Yeah, haven't you noticed how carlosslim_mex and billgates45 have really high user ratings?

Dundee_United
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Sep 28 2007 22:26

Distributed by members of IWW Clydeside GMB today at Critical Mass in Glasgow...

http://iwwscotland.wordpress.com/2007/09/28/strike-bike/

There's a pdf for anyone who wants to print that flier and distribute it locally located there too:-

http://iwwscotland.files.wordpress.com/2007/09/strike-bike-flyer-x3.pdf

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JoeMaguire
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Sep 30 2007 17:39

I was happy to read what theyre doing, and I wish them well.

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robot
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Oct 3 2007 20:15

Just for your information: The strike-bike-campaign ended yesterday, 2007-10-02. All 1800 strike-bikes are sold. The assembly in the occupied factory in Nordhausen will beginn in about three weeks from now. There were 1500 orders from Germany and 300 from unions, groups and individuals in some 20 other countries. As far as I know there will be an English language press-release soon. The 135 workers from Nordhausen in a press conference together with the FAU and Cafe Libertad yesterday expressed that they are absolutely happy and proud of beeing in the focus of an overwhelming international solidarity campaign. Strike-Bike made it into the major German TV channels and newspaper and the www.strike-bike.de had more than 90.000 pageviews in only a couple of days.

Just to answer a question raised in this thread: None of the fellow-workers in Nordhausen are FAU members so far. Most of them are not unionized at all, there are only a few IG Metall union members. But if you take a look at http://www.fau.org/artikel/art_071003-111824 you will see where the sympathies are wink Anyhow it was not our idea to unionize the workers at Nordhausen when we developed the strike-bike together with them, but to show them and other workers that direct action can do more for all of us than the reformist unions will ever do. But to be honest - even we did not imagine that this solidarity direct action would be such a success in such few time!

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jef costello
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Oct 3 2007 22:32

Sounds good Robot, not sure I entirely agree with the idea but it looks like it was done well.

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robot
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Oct 4 2007 21:14

This is the translation of our latest press release into (broken) English:

3rd of October 2007 - FAU "Strike-Bike" solidarity group

Press conference in Nordhausen - 2nd of October 2007 - 3 pm

We - from the union Freie Arbeiterinnen- und Arbeiter Union (FAU) - congratulate the collegues for their courage, not to accept without fighting the desperation of the "Restructuring to Zero" of their bicycle-factory here in Nordhausen.

This - firstly - symbolic act, to plan, organise and produce 1.800 "Strike-Bikes" in full self-management, has already now led to an overwhelming solidarity in germany and worldwide.

Beside more than 1.400 orders from germany, other 300 orders from greece, italy, spain, great britain, ireland, belgium, luxemburg, austria and switzerland are written on hand.

Varied help and solidarity came from bicycle-cooperatives and -undertakings, local anarchosyndicalist unions (e.g. the CNT-AIT Spain from Seville, Valencia, the basque region, Teruel, ...), the site group at Airbus in Madrid of the CGT, many location groups and unions of the FAU, collegues of the metal industry, leftists within the reformist DGB trade unions, a bicycle-association in Vienna etc. We cannot list all.

Solidarity statements from all over the world reached the collegues in Nordhausen - from Kairo, Tel Aviv, Australia, Poland, Hungary, Sibiria, Brazil, Bolivia, Johannesburg, from the Wobblies and their Starbucks-Union in the USA and Scotland and of course from whole Europe. Press requests reached us from moscow, numerous newspaper articles were written and interviews with radio- and tv-stations has been given.

The solidarity statements reveal that the action of the Nordhausen-Bicycle-Workers encourages other workers. It shows them new perspectives in their own fight against beating-down the wages, Outsourcing, mass dismissal and shutdowns of establishments.

We - as FAU - thank the local fighting collegues, which had accepted our offer of support, without being bothered by being only a little union and we offer furthermore our solidary help and fair comments.

If the dream of a longer-term self-managed production or of a cooperative controlled by the staff can be or have to be realized, is
solely up to the "obstreperous collective" of the occupants here in Nordhausen.

We - as FAU - are confident and convinced, that here in the factory nobody will fobbed off from "pipe sayings" and empty promises anymore. - and that also in the future MIFA-wages and working conditions won't be accepted in this factory.

I thank you for your attention and bring solidary greetings on behalf of my union, the Freie Arbeiterinnen- und Arbeiter-Union, the FAU.

Folkert Mohrhof
FAU-IWA Hamburg local

Dundee_United
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Oct 5 2007 13:46

From labourstart...

"Strike Bike: Good news - there have been over 1,300 orders for the
bikes, 64,000 visits to the Strike Bike home page, and the workers
have decided to go ahead and begin producing the red bikes at the end
of this month. They still need orders, so if you've not yet ordered
yours, or told your local bike shop to do so, please do this now."

Well done to all those who've helped with this then!

smile

Dundee_United
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Oct 5 2007 13:47

Haha - never read the post above. Sorry... embarrassed

David in Atlanta
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Oct 5 2007 16:15

I don't understand what people are finding to criticize about this project.
The workers produced a lot of bikes, one assumes using tools and material "belonging" to the bosses, to fund and publicize their on-going struggle. It's not like they're setting up an artisanal coop. In the process they've also issued a reminder that workers can produce socially benefical goods and services without the bosses.
Good for them, I say, and well done to FAU for helping them.
I hope everyone who ordered a bike pays for a bike!

red n black star red n black star red n black star red n black star red n black star
five star coolness in class struggle rating.

syndicalist
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Oct 6 2007 03:50

RE: FAU-IAA: Staff of occupied bicycle factory in the Thuringian Nordhausen take up production‏
From: Victor Chernov (wsany@hotmail.com)
Sent: Fri 9/21/07 11:21 AM
To: Isegrim.Zanahoria (fauhh1@fau.org)
Greetings Folkert,

We sent greetings to the colleagues at the following email: fahrradwerk@gmx.de
Trusting this was sent to the proper address.

Yours in solidarity,
Mitch

> Date: Thu, 20 Sep 2007 11:25:17 +0200
> Subject: Re: FAU-IAA: Staff of occupied bicycle factory in the Thuringian Nordhausen take up production in self-
> From: fauhh1@fau.org
> To: wsany@hotmail.com
>
> Hi Mitch,
> thanks a lot - we'll sent your solidarity greetins to the coollegues in
> the occupied factory - or did you do taht yourself already?
>
> Folkert
>
> >
> > Dear Friends,
> >
> > The Workers Solidarity Alliance (WSA) sends you our greetings and best
> > wishes.
> >
> > Good luck in your efforts!
> >
> > Yours in solidarity,
> > Mitch
> > Corresponding Secty.
> >
> >
> > W.S.A.
> > National Office339 Lafayette Street-Room 202New York, NY 10012tel. (212)
> > 979-8353www.workersolidarity.org

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Tacks
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Oct 8 2007 11:41


WTF!!

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Tacks
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Oct 8 2007 11:43

soo german it hurts.

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Jacques Roux
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Oct 10 2007 17:52
Quote:
How long will the 'bureaucratic course' last?
By Wildcat

The following report on an occupied bicycle factory in Nordhausen was
translated from the German by Prol-Position and will appear in the
forthcoming issue Prol-Position 9 http://www.prol-position.net/

http://www.metamute.org/en/occupied-bicycle-factory-Nordhausen

j.rogue
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Oct 10 2007 18:13

Not to be a bitch, but that is not a very nice looking bike, even for a cruiser.

David in Atlanta
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Oct 10 2007 20:43

No, it's far from an esthetic design, but it might not catch the eye of bikethives.

I'm curious. If according to the wildcat article, the factory had been stripped of machinery and materials, how did they resume production for even a limited edition run?

petey
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Oct 10 2007 20:54

it's red and black. you want more?

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Jacques Roux
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Oct 10 2007 21:46
j.rogue wrote:
Not to be a bitch, but that is not a very nice looking bike, even for a cruiser.

Thats the kinda bike people tend to ride in Europe thought isnt it?

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calvin
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Oct 10 2007 21:46
David in Atlanta wrote:
No, it's far from an esthetic design, but it might not catch the eye of bikethives.

I'm curious. If according to the wildcat article, the factory had been stripped of machinery and materials, how did they resume production for even a limited edition run?

I don't know the wildcat articel, baut they occupiet the factory before the Lone Star could stole the machinery. To buy a strike bike the comrades have to pay by ordering the bike, that's why they needed 1.800 sold bikes to buy the materials.

David in Atlanta
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Oct 10 2007 22:49
calvin wrote:
David in Atlanta wrote:
I'm curious. If according to the wildcat article, the factory had been stripped of machinery and materials, how did they resume production for even a limited edition run?

I don't know the wildcat articel, baut they occupiet the factory before the Lone Star could stole the machinery. To buy a strike bike the comrades have to pay by ordering the bike, that's why they needed 1.800 sold bikes to buy the materials.

This article I misread it the first time and thought it said everything was gone. All it actually says is that the production line was dismantled and some machine parts taken by Mifa Under those conditions it shouldn't have been too hard for the people who actually ran the shop to patch things back togather.

Out of curiousity, does anyone know what the factory's output was fully staffed?

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MJ
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Oct 10 2007 23:18

haha

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calvin
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Oct 15 2007 16:42

They must produce about 200.000 bikes a year.

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robot
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Oct 16 2007 21:00

This is the latest press release (#4) concerning the "Strike-Bike"

„Strike- Bike“ -- Production will start on Monday, october 22 at 6:30 a.m.!

Finally, on october, 22 the bicycle factory in Nordhausen will start operation again. From 6:30 a.m. the “Strike-Bike” will be produced fully self-managed and without bosses. The 1800 bicycles will be produced and delivered to the customer in the beginning of november.

People who are interested in a "Strike-Bike" but didn’t get one of the 1800, may put their requests on a reservation list at www.strike-bike.de.

Media representatives from press, radio and television are welcome. We strongly ask for notices in advance. Due to the public interest accreditations are needed. Collegues from “Bikes-in-Nordhausen e.V.” as well as members of the FAU-IWA, of the Café Libertad Collective and unions from diiferent will be present at the event.

Strike-Bike / FAU
Fettstr. 23
D-20357 Hamburg

kc
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Oct 27 2007 19:58


The occupied factory in Nordhausen

kc
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Oct 27 2007 20:01


Self organized production of 135 workers in a occupied factory

kc
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Oct 27 2007 20:09


Never seen since the early 1920th in Germany - the black and red flag waving over an occupied factory, the flag of the IG Metall (socialdemocratic metal workers union, largest union of the world) was striked by the workers.

kc
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Oct 27 2007 20:33

The production of the red »Strike-Bike«'s with the black cat on the headset was finished on Friday the 26. of Oktober at 12 o'clock. Day by day trucks loaded with bikes for the different parts of Germany left the factory.

Completely selforganized, without bosses, the workers of the Bike Systems plant produced and delivered 1805 red bikes to the solidary customers together with the FAU (Free Workers Union - IWA). With this action the fighting workers of Nordhausen wrote an important new part of the history of the german workers movement.
All main german newspapers printed articles about this fight, in addition the major TV stations broadcasted a lot of unexpected positive informations.

Thanks to all supporters!!!

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little_brother
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Oct 29 2007 12:08

Whether or not you think this is a revolutionary strategy, you have to look at the positives.

* It's non-acceptance of the situation by the bike workers, who have taken an initiative to organise collectively.
* It's a real example of workers taking over a manufacturing workplaces - showing that you really don't need the bosses.
* It's a protest against asset-stripping - in this case by a private equity company.
* Support for Stirke-bike is an example of international solidarity.

Obviously we can have the usual debate about anarcho-syndicalist strategies, but rather than hear simplistic arguments about the revolutionary potential of self-management, instead I think it's worth trying to understand Strike-bike a bit better and learn something from this struggle.

Firstly, from one conversation I had with a contact in germany, I don't think anyone is seriously suggesting Strike-bike will be sustainable long term. The old company and factory building is in the hands of the receivers - a 'rescue company' or 'auffangesellschaften' in german. The receivers own the building and will be aiming to get the workers out once they are ready to sell all the assets. I understand that the receivers may even be asking for compensation from Strike-bike's use of the factory equipment/building and even from revenue of the production itself!

Even if they workers kept all the profit after paying for the parts, producing 1800 bikes under self-management cannot possibly keep 355 workers in employment (I believe they are working the same hours as before, don't know about wages) when the annual output before the company was dissolved was in the 100,000s. Somebody do the math!

Also, as far as I understand it, the bike workers cannot get supplier credit which is why they had to get these solidarity orders/cash in advance. On paper, it seems amazing that the Strike-bike workers had the confidence to risk surviving on almost no income - a lot of this must have to do with belief in solidarity of supporters. I assume that there is some kind of strike-fund as well as the income from the selling the bikes to 'solidarity customers'?

But also the workers longer term livelihoods should be protected by a system of redeployment into other workplaces which I assume is due to some state legislation about how rescue companies must operate. It is probably this latter point that helps make a short-term struggle viable. [Actually from just reading the prol-position piece it seems it was the initial lack of implementation of this Sozialplan that helped sparked the factory occupation].

All in all, it's a real struggle, and a very inspiring one, although one with real limitations for the long term.

Does anyone else have any more details?

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jef costello
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Oct 30 2007 00:18

Thanks for the extra info kc, can you address any of lb's questions?

Caiman del Barrio
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Oct 30 2007 00:41

This is very interesting, although I think practical attempts solidarity (and by that I don't mean buying a bike) are limited. I agree broadly with Little Brother that simply to dismiss this out of hand would be ridiculous, and instead we should understand its limitations.

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little_brother
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Oct 30 2007 11:18

The least anyone can do is publicise it. AF did so in last resistance.

It's worth reading the Wildcat/prol-position article (I note they are saying it's 125 workers in the occupation). Based on this number and 1800 bikes that's 14.4 bikes per person. At 275 Euros maximum income per bike that's only about 4000 Euros income per worker over the entire period of occupation before anything is taken out for delivery, parts, factory running costs, payments to the factory owners, receivers, corporation tax(?) etc., assuming these are being paid. Knowing that the severance payment is only 21 Euro per one year of employment with the company (bastards!), it just seems clear that if there was no additional income/solidarity (cash, food etc.) this just wouldn't be working which tells us more about the excellent level of solidarity in this struggle, than the effectiveness of the self-managed workplace itself. That's all I'm saying really.