We stand by our coworkers of Officine Zero and we sign the following call for support:
Facing the dramatic social and labor crisis that we live in Italy and in Europe, unexpected and brave answers are needed. Officine Zero, an occupied factory a few steps away from the Tiburtina station in Rome, is a valuable example of temporary and unemployed workers’ direct activation, to boost the economy on a new basis: cooperation, mutualism and environmental sustainability.
Officine ex-RSI (night train maintenance site, former Wagon Lits) was initially occupied on the 20th of February, 2012 by the workers that had been laid off. On the 1st of June, 2013, in response to the failure of the company decreed by the Court of Lecco, a broad social coalition, which had been supporting the workers battle all along, re-opened the factory gates with a project to reconvert it, in order to give new perspectives to the ongoing occupation.
The model that is being experimented promotes innovative projects that benefit from the cooperation between different professions and trades, from the containment of expenses that come from sharing costs and supplies of integrated services in compliance with the environmental, social and economic sustainability. At the heart of the conversion project is the implementation of an officially recognized center for re-use and preparation for re-use, where goods and waste can be given a second life, and can be subject to inspection, cleaning and repairing, to then be distributed on the second hand market, in line with the best practices at European level.
In order to optimize the recovery and use of space and equipment, on one hand, and the socio-economic value of cooperation, on the other, many other projects have been activated: workshops for craftswork, upcycling and prototyping, a co-working space for freelancers and non-standard professionals, a “chamber for self-employed and precarious work” with legal, fiscal and social security services, a student house and a canteen. Today, one year later, Officine Zero already looks like a wide space of collaborative production, where blue collars, craftsmen, freelancers and students cooperate daily. The re-generation of the space has been made possible thanks to the reactivation of the machinery, essential for running the new productions at the present date.
By September, the Trustee in the bankruptcy could tender a public auction for the sale of the machinery, with the risk that an enormous patrimony could be sold out, with no protection of the area or of the labor. For this Officine Zero needs immediate mobilization and wide support. Supporting Officine Zero means asking the institutions (the Region, Lazio and the Capital, Rome, in particular) to continue with the commitments made so far, protecting the future employment of workers and promoting the process of workers buyout, according to the principles of Article 43 of the Italian Constitution. Supporting Officine Zero at this time means to actively participate in the construction of a mutual fund, which is necessary to lay the foundations for the redevelopment of a productive and environmental common.
In Italy and in Europe examples of companies bailed out by the workers themselves and by local communities are growing, while the collaborative economy is increasingly emerging as a new paradigm of production. For this reason we invite you to sign the call and to support Officine Zero, in this challenge that is difficult, but crucial and fascinating for all of us.