After factory shutdown, Italian workers ‘recycle’ jobs

Updated 03 June 2013
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After factory shutdown, Italian workers ‘recycle’ jobs

A group of Italian factory workers who lost their jobs at an auto component maker due to the recession, have taken over their disused factory near Milan and are planning to set up a recycling business as they struggle for dignity.
“We were considered rejects in society and we recycled ourselves,” said Gigi Malabarba, an unemployed man who has joined the initiative.
Their unusual project is illegal but tolerated by local authorities and the owner of the site, a company belonging to banking giant UniCredit.
As Italy’s longest post-war economic crisis drags on, theirs is a desperate measure for a desperate time in which there are precious few other jobs.
The facade of the factory is covered in banners.
Inside are dozens of members of “Ri-Maflow,” which registered as a social cooperative in March.
The idea took shape during 2012 as the workers struggled and failed to keep their factory open.
A total of 330 workers at the Maflow plant were let go between 2010 and 2012 before it shut down.
It has only just begun but the plan is to recycle and repair electronic equipment destined for scrap.
A factory hall-turned-workshop already has piles of old computers, scuffed keyboards and tools.
There are also plans to host regular organic and ethical goods markets and a large space dedicated to “ancient crafts,” as well as a library.
One corner of the factory houses two African refugees who escaped from former dictator Muammar Qaddafi’s Libya. They have already set up their own small business — a workshop to repair old bicycles.
“There is no work elsewhere so we are going to invent it ourselves,” said Michele Morini, 43, a former employee and member of Ri-Maflow.
“But we needed a place so we returned to the ashes of Maflow,” he said, adding that project members were hoping for some “beginner’s luck” to recover the “dignity” they lost when their jobs vanished.
“We hope we manage to create something that has meaning, that is environmentally useful, something that is relatively easy to launch and does not require the purchase of expensive equipment.” Ri-Maflow is inspired by worker cooperatives from the 19th century that made up for the absence of a social welfare state and were based on “solidarity, equality and self-management,” the movement said on its website.

Members also drew parallels with similar factory occupations in Argentina, where dismissed workers took over their former places of employment after the devastating 2001 financial crisis.
The aim is to employ between 200 and 300 people over the next two or three years.
“The outlook is good,” said Pietro Calvi, 46, another participant in the project.
He said that the toughening up of European rules on recycling would favor their business as Italy still lags far behind in terms of waste disposal.
Morini denied any political affiliation but said he hoped Ri-Maflow would make politicians reflect on “a critical situation, where the usual, conventional, banal answers no longer work.
“I never thought I would reach this stage. I never saw myself as a revolutionary,” he said.
“Even moderates sometimes take desperate, risky measures they would have never thought of. It’s very clear — either that or they do not eat.”


From Havana to the UAE: Camila Cabello’s visit gives her a ‘special feeling’

Updated 17 February 2019
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From Havana to the UAE: Camila Cabello’s visit gives her a ‘special feeling’

  • Cuban-American singing sensation Camila Cabello's visit to the UAE left her leaving humbled
  • The singer's performance in Dubai was well received and led to social media postings about how loved she felt

DUBAI: Cuban-American singing sensation Camila Cabello, who performed at the RedFest DXB 2019 music festival in Dubai over the weekend, took time out before the show to visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. 

The singer of the hit song “Havana,” which she performed at the Grammys last week, posted a photo on Instagram of herself at the mosque wearing a hijab, which is provided for all female visitors. 

“I wore a hijab to be respectful when visiting this mosque, and at the store this really sweet girl helped me put it on,” Cabello wrote on her Instagram. 

“We didn’t speak the same language, but she was smiling as she helped me, and it felt like she was a close friend.” 

Her Instagram caption began: “One of my favorite people, Anthony Bourdain, once said, ‘It seems that the more places I experience, the bigger I realize the world to be’ — it’s so true, I love the feeling of being humbled by traveling to another place and experiencing a completely different culture. It makes you realize how small your world is in comparison to how big the world actually is; how you’re only living one version in a million of the human experience. But at the same time travel makes you realize we’re not really all that different.”

Cabello, previously a member of pop group Fifth Harmony, added: “I can’t really describe it, but experiences like this give me such a special feeling of being really close to and really loving people.”

She continued her ode to the UAE on Sunday, posting a photo of herself in a long, flowing dress in the desert and urging people to travel “to a place that couldn’t be more different than what you know.” 

She wrote: “Never in my life did I think I would see a place like this. Getting to see places like this just makes me more desperate to see more.”

The 21-year-old singer performed at the Dubai Media City Amphitheater on Friday, along with rapper Macklemore. 

Her one-hour set opened with the 1980s-inspired ballad “Never Be the Same,” and included other hit numbers such as “Lost Control” and “Inside Out.” She closed the set with the chart-topping track “Havana.” 

Post-concert, Cabello tweeted: “I’ve got so much love to my fans from the Middle East. I didn’t realize there were so many of you out there.”