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The women of Aurora Grundig

They're women, former workers of the iconic Aurora Grundig. Thanks to their struggle, today the dream of the domestic industry
Stories of ordinary people
mujeres-aurora-grundig
| 14 January, 2020 |

In the 1980s, in Tierra del Fuego, there was a factory remembered by all Argentines. The famous Aurora Grundig. The company had five large industrial plants in Ushuaia. Over time, it became an emblem of the domestic industry for the quality of its products. Who can’t remember those powerful washing machines that lasted 30 years? Or your advertising “Save Big Aurora Grundig”?

But, in the 1990s, imports opened indiscriminately and, as in an unforeseen rain, Asian goods rained into the country. 1996 became a sad year for Argentina. When no one expected it, the powerful Aurora Grundig shut down. At that time 750 workers formed the factory’s staff. A lot of them were women. The blow was hard and the factory was abandoned overnight. The administrative offices were filled with dust. The machines that produced the most commonly used washing machines in Argentina stopped working.

Start from scratch

The factory disappeared, but not its workers. It was them, the women, who took the reins of the situation and decided to fight for their work. Watching inside the factory, they organized a peaceful resistance. In 2003 they formed the Cooperative Renacer and, the following year, the factory stood up and produced again. “Everything had to be rebuilt from scratch,” recalls Monica Acosta, president of the cooperative. “They underestimated the women, that we were the ones who drove the fight,” she said. Thus, with great effort, the dream of the domestic industry was reborn.

“ Our first salary was 430 pesos,” Acosta recalls. Alone 80 families managed to survive the long years of the resistance. Many were on the way, some got sick and those who died from cancer are remembered in tables in offices. The factory had cut off the water and the gas, they only had electricity. A long time worked frozen in winter, with temperatures below zero.

Thereafter, there were good times and bad times. 2012, by example, was the best year of the Cooperative. 240,000 microwaves have been sold! Unfortunately, despite being a beloved cooperative on the island, the crises they didn’t take long to arrive. The competition of leading companies, the swings of economy and dependence on imports generated large obstacles.

fábrica Renacer

Live the day by day

Today, microwaves, like TVs, come unarmed from China. The 180 workers working at the Cooperative do something else than assemble them. Women are the majority. They sort the material, make welding, assemble the control panel, load the software and join 200 pieces in manual form. “We used to manufacture everything. There is no economic independence if we depend on China,” sums up Acosta.

In order to maintain wages (all charge the same) they must manufacture 1000 household appliances per day. Despite the crisis, they were able to complete the delivery of homes and create a popular baccalaureate within the factory. So, in the same workplace, they can finish their studies. To keep running, the women of former Aurora Grundig will have to keep fighting. The path is not easy, but it is the only one to keep alive the dream of

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