State-owned Diana Industries is one of dozens of industries in Venezuela run under some form of worker control. It was nationalized in 2008. Workers claim that since 2010 production has increased by over 38%, and production records are regularly broken. Its factories produce cooking oil, mayonnaise, margarine, soap and other products for the national food market. Diana is held as an important example of the efforts of workers and the government to tackle sporadic shortages in some basic food products over the last year, which the government blames on an “economic war” being waged by business sectors aligned with the conservative opposition.
In Diana Industries workers in each production and administration area are organised into worker councils, which have five elected spokespersons. Like some other worker controlled factories in Venezuela, workers also meet in a workers assembly, and have a trade union to fight for specific demands on pay and conditions. Workers participate in production, administration and sales. As salaries are generated from production, which is run by the workers, production line workers are paid more than managers. In total, the company has some 3000 employees.
Last summer Diana workers protested the “imposition” of businessman David Mendoza by Food Minister Felix Osorio as the overall manager of Diana Industries. The workers won a partial victory when President Nicolas Maduro overturned Mendoza’s appointment and instead designated former army brigadier Dester Rodriguez to the post, who said he would be open to working with mechanisms of worker control.
Many of these images are taken from a visit made to the Diana Industries plant in the city of Valencia by the Australia Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN) brigade, which visited Venezuela last December.
Text by Venezuelanalysis.com