Forgive me if I get some of the details of this wrong, but its an interesting story regardless…
In Nordhausen, Germany, 135 workers at Bike Systems GmbH have been cooperating with the anarcho-syndicalist union FAU (Freie Arbeiterinnen- und Arbeiter-Union – Free Workers-Union) to occupy their factory in a sort of reverse strike. The factory, formerly owned by Biria AG, stopped production in June and filed for bankrupcy in August. However the Bike Systems staff have been keeping the factory physically occupied in three shifts in the hopes of preventing the dismantling and sale of the factory. They’re gathering orders for “Strike Bikes” via their website, aiming to produce at least 2000 bikes in October. Incidentally they’re decent looking bikes and quite inexpensive.
The odds are rather stacked against the formerly employed by Bike Systems GmbH but still actually working there staff members: The factory was already run-down and more recently most of the equipment was stripped out following the bankruptcy process.
As far as I can follow its indeed a story of take-over exploitation. The Bike Systems factory in the south of the Harz Mountains in former East Germany was previously owned and operated by Biria AG. In late 2005 a majority stake in Biria was bought by Lone Star Funds of Dallas, Texas USA. Most of you are already familiar with how great Texans are at helping people in other countries. Anyhow Lone Star “restructured” Biria and sold it (or parts of it) to rival bicycle manufacturer MIFA. The Bike Systems factory is apparently now unneeded by MIFA.
Complicating matters further Biria AG must now repay 5,2 million euros in goverment subsidies they’re no longer entitled to. Despite it being clearly noted in each press piece I’m unclear about exactly what this means:
A. New Biria owner MIFA must pay the 5,2 million
B. Another part of Biria, not owned by MIFA must pay the 5,2 million
C. Does this somehow affect the continuation of the Bike Systems factory?
For more info check out: www.strike-bike.de (in English, German, Spanish and Dutch).