Argentina: Worker takeover successful

When Argentina’s economy took a nosedive four years ago, the San Justo glassworks in Buenos Aires was one of many enterprises that went bankrupt.

For months a group of workers at the plant barricaded the gates to prevent the factory’s machinery from being taken away. They slept outside for most of the winter and their families went hungry, but they persevered.

The workers went to court and claimed first rights to the machinery and the factory site, since they had been unpaid for so long. After almost a year, the judge ruled in their favor, allowing them to restart the furnaces and resume production, BBC News reported.

Operating much like a cooperative, all the workers are paid the same wages and make production decisions jointly.

The workers now earn the same monthly wage as when the factory was at its peak. They produce enough car headlights to be able to export some of them, and have earned enough money to invest in new machinery.

This is not an isolated incident. More than 100 businesses employing 10,000 workers have gone through a similar process, most of them linked to the National Movement of Recovered Factories. A proposed reform in the bankruptcy law may ease more worker takeovers.

Uganda: Children victimized by war

An 18-year conflict between a rebel paramilitary group and the government has wrought devastation on the social, cultural and economic conditions of an entire generation of children and their families in northern Uganda. Since the war began, 80 percent of the region’s population, or about 1 million people, have been displaced, reported.

The Lord’s Resistance Army, an anti-government group headed by Joseph Kony, has frequently raided refugee camps and has abducted as many as 25,000 children into its ranks as soldiers. The children are often tortured and raped and trained to kill or be killed.

But an additional quieter, yet desperate, crisis is emerging, with an increasing population of orphaned or homeless children who would previously have been absorbed into the social fabric of their extended families. The persistent conflict, accompanied by internal displacement, poverty and disease, including a ravaging HIV/AIDS epidemic, have shattered family relationships.

Social workers say they have insufficient resources to help all the children.

Japan: New campaign against nukes

The Japan Council against A & H Bombs (Japan Gensuikyo) launched a new international antinuclear signature campaign Jan. 1. The petition calls on the United Nations and all governments in the world to immediately begin talks to conclude an international convention for the total ban and elimination of nuclear weapons.

In May 2005, at the United Nations Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference (NPT), Japan Gensuikyo sent a delegation of 1,000 to New York with more than 5 million signatures demanding immediate abolition of nuclear weapons.

The new appeal states: “Today, the overwhelming majority of both the people and the governments of the world are demanding the abolition of nuclear weapons. Nevertheless, a large number of nuclear weapons, enough to annihilate the whole of humanity, are still being stockpiled and deployed.”

It notes that the U.S. government, the biggest nuclear power, says it will keep its nuclear weapons indefinitely on the grounds of coping with “the dangers of terrorism and nuclear proliferation,” and is actually planning to develop a new generation of tactical nuclear weapons.

“These actions … run counter to the purpose and the basic principle of the United Nations ‘to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war’ and to settle international disputes by peaceful means,” the statement says.

The growing list of endorsements includes organizations and individuals from 17 countries, as well as international groups such as Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and the Women’s International Democratic Federation. In the U.S., endorsers include September 11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows and the U.S. Peace Council.

Czech Republic: Young communists under attack

The Communist Union of Youth (KSM) has been under attack recently from the Home Office of the Czech Republic. The Ministry of the Interior challenged the legal status of the KSM as a civic organization and has attempted to coerce the organization into renouncing Marxism.

The KSM has close ties to the Workers’ Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia, one of the country’s strongest parliamentary political parties.

In response, communist and workers parties from around the world have sent messages to the Czech authorities in support of the KSM, denouncing the attack and reaffirming the standing of the KSM as an legitimate organization of young activists, not unlike other organizations such as the Young Conservatives, Young Social Democrats and Young Christian Democrats.

World Notes are compiled by Pamella Saffer (