Germany: Bicycle plant under workers control

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kc
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Joined: 27-11-06
Nov 5 2007 15:37

Some answers to the questions above.

The problem at all was that the workers fought back to late. All the orders was done, the bikes delivered and when they started the occupation there was no material in the plant.
At the beginning of the fight the workers prepared themself to defend the plant against the police but this was not required because they got the advice from their lawyer to start an ongoing work meeting by the workers council which gave the occupation a legal coverage against their bosses from Bike Systems (= Lone Star Fund V). In addition the former owner of Bike Systems, Mehdi Biria, is still the owner of the factory buildings and he was not interested to be involved in this conflict.

Strike Bike - the idea of the FAU was to get solidarity orders/cash in advance to buy the parts for the production. This worked well. Additionally to the 1.800 ordered bikes there are more than 500 people on a reservation list.

The workers got no money the last 113 days because they was still employees of Bike Systems and this company claimed to have no more money. All the financial assets had been transferred earlier to a postbox company "gatus 233 GmbH" which was traded by Lone Star to get 25% of the shares of Bike Systems competitor MIFA AG the largest german bike plant.

In cases like this (insolvency) workers can ask the unemployment agency for a credit. Some of the workers did so, others got support from their families and friends or lived from donations.
Earlier they earned about ~ 6.70 Euro per hour. In the week of the Strike-Bike production the workers paid themself (everyone) the same wage - 10 Euro x 36 hours = 360 Euro. If there had been an ongoing selforganized production the workers would have 300 - 400 Euro more per month than in a production for the bosses. This calculation (don't lough) included the 2 year guarantee for the bikes and the parts, accident insurance, electricity for the plant for the time of the production, lawyer, tax consultant and so on.

We expect that 10, 20, 30... of the workers will come back with a selforganized bike production in Nordhausen. They want to learn some things they need in the next month (bookkeeping, computer knowledge...) when they have to take part in the "rescue company". The problem with the ongoing production for all 135 workers was that they had to order bike parts in China 3 month in advance of the production and no one would give them a credit (the number was 3-7 million Euros for 200.000 bikes) For a production in a smaller size there could be an other solution...

Please have a look at the short video of the start of the Strike Bike production:
http://www.nnz-online.de/_daten/mm_objekte/2007/10/8494_1022_81759962.wmv

or the video "Heros at the production line" (4 min): http://www.dw-world.de/popups/popup_single_mediaplayer/0,,2856803_start_1165_end_1417_type_video_struct_3055,00.html?mytitle=Helden%2Bam%2BBand%2B-%2BWeshalb%2Bth%25C3%25BCringische%2BFahrradbauer%2Bihre%2BFirma%2Bbesetzen%2B

If you understand german hear the interviews with some workers from the final party in Nordhausen: http://www.freie-radios.net/mp3/20071103-strikebike-19502.mp3

Kersten

kc
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Joined: 27-11-06
Nov 5 2007 18:38

Dear comrades,

we like to inform you about the current situation in the occupied bicycle factory in Nordhausen, Germany.
The FAU and the workers of Nordhausen thank you for your solidarity and greetings. It was a great experience for all of us.

The pressrelease of November 2nd as follows.

Best regards,
Daniel, Heiko and Florian
International Secretariat of the FAU-IWA

----------------------------------------------------------------

Hamburg/Nordhausen, 2nd of November 2007:

"Strike-Bike" - selfmanaged production in the end of october successful!
At the 1st of november insolvency administrator confiscated factory.

In the bicycle factory in Nordhausen the production of the glaring red "Strike-Bike" with the hissing cat (the symbol of wild strike) took place from 22nd till 26th of october.
During five days and 36 working hours the 122 fellow workers (from formerly 135) produced the "Strike-Bike" with an hourly wage of 10 Euro, regardless of working in coloring, assembling, distribution or in office. With this action, the bicycle workers have disclosed impressively the "restructuring to zero" and shown that they hadn't accepted their liquidation without fighting.

Fully selfmanaged and without bosses 1837 "Strike-Bike" were produced.
The bikes are on their way to the customers or have already arrived.

With this action the fighting bicycle workers of nordhausen have written history.

>From 30th to 31st of october the fellow workers made a party together just once again. At the first of november the insolvency administrator Wutzke changed the locks and the "rescue company" starts at the 5th of November with retraining and qualification measures. We wish the bicycle workers much strength for this step and will continue to report at the strike-bike-page.

We thank all fellow solidary workers inland and abroad, which have supported this action - an occupation about 113 days (since 10th of july) - by purchasing a "Strike-Bike" and by doing other solidarity actions.
It's early days yet - and you learn going by walking.

At strike-bike.de you can find an always updated press review. There are much pictures, videos and informations.

Additionally a reservation list for future production was set up. We cannot answer every mail. An upcoming newsletter will report about further developments. You will find new informations also on www.strike-bike.de.

Please send reclamations and requests to the fellow workers of the "Bikes-in-Nordhausen e.V." for now by mail. A new phone number is in preparation.

Bikes -- in -- Nordhausen e.V.
99734 Nordhausen
eMail: strikebikeNDH(ät)aol.de

Further informations about the campaign of the FAU-"Strike Bike"-Solidaritygroup:

Spokesperson:
Folkert Mohrhof
monday till friday from 10 am till 3 pm +49 (0) 40 - 20 90 68 96
presse(ät)strike-bike.de

no1
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Joined: 3-12-07
Jan 18 2011 23:35
Quote:
»Strike Bike« Filed For Bankruptcy
In November 2010, Strike Bike GmbH, including its two remaining executive directors and full-time workers André Kegel und Sven Aderhold and two part-time workers, had to file for bankruptcy. The »Strike Bike« production stopped at the end of 2010.

From militant resistance of a whole factory against Lone Star - a finance investor group from the United States, which took over a bike factory in Nordhausen (Germany) - to self organised labour: this bold try now failed.

http://internationalworkersassociation.blogspot.com/2011/01/strike-bike-filed-for-bankruptcy.html

Spikymike
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Joined: 6-01-07
Jan 19 2011 12:36

Workers have often to accept whatever work is available, even in likely to fail co-operative style units. 'Strike Bikes' orginal production was part of an ongoing class struggle against the original owners and received widespread support on that basis, but sad as it is for anyone losing their job, this last failed venture surely didn't deserve the continuing use of this title? Was this not simply an attempt to continue milking ideological sympathy and brand loyalty to sell a niche product against more capitalistically efficient competitors? Does this not reinforce all the critiques previously made on Libcom of the co-operative and mutuals strategy of many in the altenative/libertarian and not so libertarian left?