Thoughts on Argentina's Conjunctures :: Recuperating Work, Recovering Life (2005-2007)

Monday, April 16, 2007

Autogestión in Argentina: Self-Management, Recovering Work, Recovering Life

Mario Alberto Barrios
General Secretary of the National Association of Self-Managed Workers of the Industrial Federation, Argentina Workers’ Central
Secretario General de la Asociación Nacional de Trabajadores Autogestionado (ANTA), Federación Industrial, Central de Trabajadores Argentina (CTA)

Moderator and discussant: Marcelo Vieta
PhD Student in Social and Political Thought, York University

Tuesday, April 17
5.00-6.30
Room 7-162, OISE/UT
252 Bloor St West

In Spanish, “autogestión” means to self-manage work cooperatively. More specifically, it is to “self-constitute” social and productive lives while minimizing the intrusive mediation of traditional bureaucracies, hierarchical organization, or the state. In Argentina, especially since the socio-economic crisis of 2001 and 2002, countless grassroots groups—the piqueteros, worker-recovered factories, microenterprises, human rights groups, environmental and rural groups—have been experimenting with and concretely practicing forms of autogestión that both contest the neoliberal enclosures of life and, at the same time, move beyond them.

Since December 2005, the Argentina Workers’ Central (CTA) has embarked on a project of organizing Argentine workers involved in self-managing their workspaces and jobs under the auspices of the National Association of Self-Managed Workers (ANTA). This was a response to the reality of the state and traditional unions turning their backs on the plight of the cooperatively employed, underemployed, and the unemployed. Initially made up of 83 organizations and over 800 members, ANTA lobbies for and assists self-managed workers in their struggle to secure pensions, fight for just work conditions, and access favourable loans, all the while attempting to give political voice to the voiceless via collective organizing.

In this presentation, Mario Alberto Barrios will discuss his work in the struggle for the rights of self-managed workers in Argentina. Involved in labour education and union leadership since 1986, Mario has been ANTA’s general secretary since its first days in late-2005. With Mario we ask three fundamental questions: How viable is self-management (autogestión) today? Can self-managed work relations lead to a better way of life? Can self-management work in Canada?

Seminar organized by Diálogo Argentina-Canada, CERLAC (York University), Transformative Learning Centre and Social Economy Centre (OISE/UT)

The travel of Mario Barrios is sponsored by CAW Sam Gindin Chair in Social Justice and Democracy, Ryerson University