A grand hotel without a boss
Hotel Bauen is an establishment in the centre of Buenos Aires. In December 2001, the owner abandoned it and left its employees in the street. In March 2003, thirty of them took over the place and relaunched the business, running it themselves with the help of the Recovered Business Federation in Argentina.
The company now employs more than one hundred people and all decisions are taken jointly during general meetings. The 20-storey building is highly symbolic.; it was built in 1978, during the dictatorship and the Soccer World Cup. Its owner, Marcelo Lurcovich, now dead, boasted in private that he had built the Bauen without spending a cent. Thanks to his contacts in the army, he had managed to secure a bank loan which was never paid back (source: pagina 12).
Since 2003, the hotel employees have rehabilitated the restaurant, the various conferences rooms and the auditorium. Concerts, festivals, radio programmes and plays are all held here.
Personalities such as Danielle Mitterrand, Naomi Klein, Noam Chomsky, Evo Morales, Hugo Chavez, Susan Sarandon and Adolfo Perez Esquivel have all pledged their support for this cooperative.
The employees are now demanding the expropriation of the building. The complaint filed by the owner’s heirs led to a long court battle. The verdict fell in September 2014: Hotel Bauen’s employees can be evicted. There is one remaining chance of staying by negociating with the government. In the meantime, they carry on working.
October 2015: The Buenos Aires city congress finally vote a law that gives the building to the workers cooperative. Produced with Sub.coop