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Issue #1668      December 10, 2014

Workers’ control at the Hotel Ramada, Ecuador

What happens in Ecuador when the owner of a large hotel decides to take the money and run robbing 97 workers and their families of their livelihoods? Delegates to the 16th International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties (IMCWP) in Guayaquil, Ecuador found out when talking to the proud staff of the Hotel Ramada who have taken back control of their own lives with the support of Rafael Correa’s government.

The bankers who owned the Ramada pulled out of the business, taking all the money but holding onto the property. Ninety-seven workers faced unemployment until the progressive Correa government expropriated the property and put it into their hands. The workers formed a cooperative and brought in an expert in hotel management from Chile for two years to teach staff what was involved. They elected a manager from among their ranks. Their success was further supported by the government in the form of a loan that was to be repaid in eight years and a guarantee that government conferences and other events must be held at the hotel.

Delegates to the IMCWP couldn’t help but notice how efficiently the team worked and speaking to the staff how proud they were in their achievement. Ricardo Patiño, the Ecuadorian Foreign Affairs Minister, a guest on the second day of the meeting, said the Ramada was a special case but not the only example. The government has assisted workers in two other workplaces to form cooperatives to manage their own work for their own benefit. Even so Patiño said that the government still needed to do more to assist workers in forming co-operatives.

Ecuador has also increased the minimum wage and has achieved one the highest rates of economic growth in the region. The Minister ended his talk by saying, “Ecuador is developing its own revolutionary process, but more importantly is that the revolutionary brothers, socialists and communists share, like today, our experiences so that together we can build a classless society.”

The following day delegates to the IMCWP attended a march to mark the 92nd anniversary of the slaughter of more than 2,000 workers in Guayaquil in 1922, when an uprising of workers ended in a bloodbath. The working class had the urgent need to establish the Communist Party of Ecuador. This was finally achieved in 1926.

Next article – Behind Israel’s fear of boycott

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