First Workplace Democracy of Lehvant Privatized by Conservative Government

The Privatization Administration of Lehvant, formed under the liberal-conservative Development Party, conducted auctions to corporatize the Ghaboun Steel Plant. 

In 1979, the Lehvantian Steel Corporation voted to establish the Congress of Industrial Organizations, a federation of unions that organized workers in industrial unions in Lehvant. As a result of their organizing efforts, the Ghaboun Steel Plant along with several others in the country were transformed into strictly democratic establishments where managers were interviewed and then elected by workers. All managerial decisions were subject to democratic review, debate and vote, with the full participation of all workers. 

This radical approach to management got the company a great deal of national attention. So much so that the CIO organizational structure, which previously met on an ad-hoc basis, received special attention from President Kamran to become a permanent fixture of civil society in Lehvant. Nearly all Constituent Assemblies in industrial towns have implemented standing rules to include a proportional number of seats to be designated for CIO representatives.

CIO representatives at the Ghaboun Plant

The auction for the Ghaboun Steel Plant started from 60.2 million Lehvantian liras and Parker-Laird Mercantile offered the highest bid – 67.9 million Lehvantian liras.

The Development Party has come under fire in the later half of the 2000s for straying from Kamran’s reforms as the government introduced censorship laws limiting dissent, while it became plagued by high inflation and massive debt. 

This debt has, for the most part, been a result of such privatization efforts in which multinational corporations have taken on state monopolies and therefore, have no incentive to act in public interest. Mass-layoffs and price hikes have resulted in the DP government having to offer more unemployment and welfare benefits in order to maintain its hold on power. However, without the previous welfare infrastructure of state company profits to fund such policies, the once well-oiled machine that funded Lehvantian welfare policies is being emptied out. 

The office of the Secretary of Labor released a statement defending the sale, stating that, “Privatization is the best way to ensure the quality of government services and increase efficiency in Lehvant. It is not a task of the government to make paper or copper – it is to promote public interest and, simply put, make sure that regular Lehvantians can lead better lives. These sales will bring more competition and efficiency to Lehvant while allowing our government to focus our efforts directly toward the people.”

However, critics of such policies such as prominent socialist scholar Hugo Azimi have pointed out “Public interest goes far beyond efficiency. All capitalism is crony capitalism, but the so-called ‘Development’ Party takes this even further. They claim the benefits of competition while handing foreign billionaires monopolies over critical services – with no competition to hold management in check, mind you.”

Radan speaking at “Democracy Not For Sale” rally held in Jezairé

The current president of the CIO, Florin Radan, also criticized this latest privatization effort in a rally held in response to news of the sale, stating that, “This is the latest move of public enemy number one: [President] Tajik and his accomplices. This isn’t just mass-privatization, it is mass-pacification. This is a direct attack on dissenters of the regime, workers, and the fabric of our society. We must not let this stand.”

Protests are expected to continue in the coming weeks.

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