Tailors Turned Activists: Surviving the Demise of the Croatian Textile Industry
This article examines the case of closed Croatian textile factory Kamensko and the non-profit organization Kamensko Opened, formed by the factory workers when they lost their jobs in 2010, after working without pay for seven months. It seeks to show the ways in which textile workers brought novelties into the Croatian labor struggle and provided means of subsistence while facing an array of challenges—bogus privatization and real-estate speculations, weak law protection, lack of political representation and gender-based discrimination. These ways can become rather creative and turn the group of factory workers into exemplary, although unlikely activists, who voice the concerns of an aging population of Croatian industrial workers while developing a small business to support themselves. The results were obtained through qualitative analysis semi-structured interviews with nine former Kamensko workers and an extensive review of newspaper coverage of the events related to factory closure. The findings show that political struggle and work within the framework of a non-profit organization have empowered the workers and brought them the support of the wider community. Their method could be used by unions to a certain extent, for the sake of creating connections and allies within the rest of the civil society.
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