Presenter: 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
Moderator and discussant: Marcelo Vieta, PhD Student in Social and Political Thought, York University
Tuesday, April 17
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 Latin America, myriad social justice groups are increasingly using the concept to articulate how the (re)invention and (re)construction of labour and social relations can take place. To “autogestionar” is the verb that drives how more and more groups are democratically and ethically reconstituting productive life. In Argentina, especially since the socio-economic crisis of 2001 and 2002, countless grassroots groups—the piqueteros, worker-recovered factories, microenterprises, affordable housing activists, human rights groups, popular education initiatives, environmental and rural groups—have been experimenting with and concretely practicing forms of autogestión that both contests the neoliberal enclosures of life and, at the same time, moves beyond them. In the process, they are inventing new horizons beyond socio-economic crisis. For these groups, to self-manage collectively is not only to produce cooperatively, it is also about transforming traditional economic relations into “social economies”—more equitable, humane, and horizontal expressions of individual and collective needs and desires.
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 a state and traditional unions that 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’ collectives in their struggle to secure pensions, fight for equitable wages, and access favourable and just loans while giving political voice to the voiceless…especially in the face of no national government policies and the lack of participation by traditional unions in the fight for more equitable, more cooperative forms of work relations.
The Transformative Learning Centre (OISE/UT), The Social Economy Centre of the University of Toronto, Dialogo Argentina-Canada, and CERLAC (York University) invite you to join us in welcoming Mario Alberto Barrios as he discusses 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 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?