FaSinPat, formerly known as Zanon, is a worker-controlled ceramic tile factory in the southern Argentine province of Neuqun, and one of the most prominent in the recovered factory movement of Argentina. The name is short for F¡brica Sin Patrones, which means "Factory Without Bosses" in Spanish.


[edit] Opening of the factory

The factory, formerly known as Zanon, was opened in the early 1980s by Luigi Zanon, while Argentina was ruled by a dictatorship. According to Alejandro Lpez, a representative of the workers union, Zanon factory was built on public land using public funding from the national and provincial governments which were never repaid. [1] In the inaugural parade, Luigi Zanon congratulated the military government for "keeping Argentina safe for investments", in an obvious reference to the Dirty War (the illegal repression of political dissidents). During the 1990s, Zanon grew because of loans from the national and provincial governments; Luigi Zanon was a good friend of both former president Carlos Menem and former governor of Neuqun, Jorge Sobisch.

According to Lpez, the Zanon labour union came under the control of criminal elements that acted in collusion with the factory owners during the 1990s, when Argentine labour laws offered little protection to workers. In 2000, after they had taken back control of the union leadership, Zanon workers started to demand improved working conditions. The increased labour activism led to serious conflict with the factory owner, who started firing workers until he decided for a lockout in 2001 in the hope of hiring a more docile workforce in the future.

[edit] Closure of Zanon factory and take-over by workers

After the closure of the Zanon factory, workers took control of the factory in a desperate attempt to keep their jobs. They justified this by the large amount of money they were owed in back pay, the fact that the Zanon factory had been built with public funds, as well as worries about asset stripping. These events occurred in the general context of the turmoil created by the 2001 economic crisis.

In the beginning, the takeover was not resisted by Luigi Zanon. In 2002, the government abandoned the fixed 1-to-1 peso-dollar parity and decreed the pesificacin ("peso-ification"), that is, the conversion of all bank accounts denominated in dollars into pesos at the official rate. As a result of the changed economic environment, FaSinPat started to be profitable again, and Luigi Zanon attempted to reclaim ownership of the factory. This included legal action, and pressure to force the government to evict all of the workers. FaSinPat have also been the target of increasing violence and death threats, such as a female worker who was kidnapped and tortured in March 2005.[2]

Economically, FaSinPat has been successful and was able to expand. During four years of operation, over 170 new workers have been hired, bringing the total number of workers to 410 as of April 2005.[3] They have had some problems because they pay full price for electricity and gas while the previous owner only paid 20%. FaSinPat is actually the only factory in Neuqun that pays full price for electricity and gas. In eight years the Neuqun Province have not bought any tiles from FaSinPat.[4]

FaSinPat has nurtured the relationship with the surrounding community. From the start, the recovered factory donated tiles to community centers and hospital and organised cultural activities for the community on its premises. In 2005, FaSinPat voted to build a community health clinic in the impoverished Nueva Espaa neighbourhood. The inhabitants of Nueva Espaa had been demanding such a clinic from the provincial government for two decades; FaSinPat built it in three months.[5] Community support has been very important in protecting the recovered factory from the threats it is subjected to.

On August 14, 2009, the provincial legislature voted to expropriate the factory to the Zanon cooperative legally and indefinitely by a count of 26 for and 9 against. The state also agreed to pay the principal creditors still owed roughly 22 million pesos (around $7 million). Chief amongst these creditors are the World Bank, from whom Luis Zanon took a substantial loan to start the factory, and an Italian company called SACMY that produces ceramics machinery. However, the cooperative has resisted these moves, arguing that these creditors participated in a fraudulent bankruptcy in 2001, and that Zanon himself should be liable for these debts, because the credits went to him personally, and not the plant.[6]

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Coordinates: 38–53–52.02–S 68–5–32.32–W»¿ / »¿38.8977833–S 68.0923111–W»¿ / -38.8977833; -68.0923111

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