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(en) Italy: FdCA Council of Delegates on the June 15 referendum (it)

From Federazione dei Comunisti Anarchici <internazionale@fdca.it>
Date Tue, 17 Jun 2003 11:26:13 +0200 (CEST)


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A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E
http://www.ainfos.ca/
http://ainfos.ca/index24.html
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A referendum is an instrument of bourgeios democracy designed to
strengthen the illusion of some form of direct democracy, of
participation in the legislative power in which, through its
constitution, the State enjoys a prerogative. In the Italian
system, this participation can be exercised (but only by that
portion of the population which has the right to vote) in order
to abrogate a law partially or totally. It has nothing to do
with direct democracy and it is no secret that this instrument,
together with others which form part of the State's structure
and of the authorities' methods of social organization, is the
subject of hostility on the part of anarchists. For all its
problematic etymology owing to the different interpretations of
the element "arxé", Anarchy in the words of Malatesta means
"society organized without authority".

We are anarchist communists not because we want to impose our
point of view or our authority, but because we do not believe
there can be a way out, a valid alternative, without the
cooperation of everyone in order for there to be happiness and
freedom for all. This will come from the emancipation of the
class, known in the traditional sense of Marxian-descended
politics, the proletarian class. What falls into the proletariat
today is no easy matter to decide, and can be the cause of much
argument. However, the task that anarchists have within the
exploited class of an enlarged, varied and international
proletariat is clear in our opinion: we must be an active
political presence, we must use any available instrument which
can lead to the emancipation of class consciousness, through
information, symbolic and political de-masking or propaganda. It
is for this very reason that we will not turn our backs on any
possibility for the conquest of partial freedoms and partial
justice. It for this very reason that our role will not be
debased by going beyond the consciences of others and striking
out alone basing ourselves on positions which are as
ideologically pure as they are incomprehensible to our various
comrades. Institutionalized political power regulates social
life by means of laws - our political activity is directed at
encouraging a wide-ranging and popular will which has the
precise aim of diminishing this power and to ensure above all
that the State does not make too damaging use of this power
which it still holds.

Errico Malatesta wrote these words with regard to the
Constitutional Assembly, words which can still provide useful
reflection even today:

"The problem therefore is to conquer at the very least a modicum
of liberty which is indispensible for every form of progress.
In Italy there will be a Republic, and we will contribute to its
triumph by competing to destroy the common obstacle which
precludes the way for us and for the republicans. But we will
not become republicans for this. We will take advantage of the
situation to strengthen our ranks, to widen our propaganda and
we will continue to aim for the immediate expropriation of the
capitalists as a preliminary condition to any true liberty." [1]

The fact that we are part of the working class, that we are
organized workers who also fight for better working conditions
and to increase class awareness and consciousness, leads us
naturally to involve ourselves in every battle, here and now,
that workers find themselves fighting. Be it in offensive
battles, in order to obtain wage increases, services or
liberties, or in defensive battles, where we must defend what
has already been won in better times.

On 15th June there will be a referendum on Article 18 of the
Workers' Statute. This, for us, is a battle which is offensive
and defensive at one and the same time.

Article 18 protects workers from dismissal without due cause,
for example for having expressed ideas and opinions which are
not shared by the employer, for joining a union, for
participating in a strike, in other words for being a
"troublesome" employee. It is a law which protects the freedom
of expression and opinion and can help to protect the worker
from blackmail on the part of the employer.

This protection is currently limited to workers in companies
which have more than 15 employees, which make up only 10% of
Italian companies - a tiny amount. For all other workers (making
a majority of 65%) this law is not applicable. These workers are
not protected against discrimination or arbitrariness on the
part of the bosses.

The referendum simply seeks the extension to everyone of a right
which many already enjoy.

It is a battle of principles, for freedom and equality between
workers, but not only this. It is above all a battle of
substance. Confindustria [2] and the Government are patently
carrying out a systematic demolition of rights and
destabilization of the world of labour. It is a plan which
serves only to render the worker's living ever more precarious.

The infamous "White Book", and its legislative enactment,
represents the framework of this subversive plan. Bill No.848,
which is by now a State law (Law No.30, 14th February 2003), and
its "little brother" 848-bis, which contains the transfer of the
modification of Article 18, both seek to increase the
precariousness of labour through what is in effect a pincer
movement - on one hand, rights which have already been won are
being limited or eliminated (such as Article 18) while on the
other hand, it is getting easier and easier for companies to use
unprotected workers.

In simple terms, what is happening is an attempt to increase
more and more the number of "atypical", temporary, unprotected
workers. While so far the bosses' strategy has been to
concentrate on workers with fixed-term contracts, with the
latest law the offensive has been directed towards the entire
labour force.

The effect of Law 30 is, in fact, all the more devastating the
more it succeeds in limiting application of the protection
provided by Article 18. Conversely, it is evident that the
extension of Article 18 to people who are not currently covered
would succeed to a certain extent in limiting the damage of this
iniquitous law.

A quick example: the introduction of the new law eliminates some
requisites which had previously been necessary in order to
authorize the farming out of areas of company activity and it is
no longer necessary to show the real functional autonomy of
these sections. It will therefore be possible to split a firm up
into many smaller enterprises, even with fewer than fifteen
employees, without any functional or organizational reason other
than that of eliminating the obligations towards and protection
of the employees.

The introduction of so-called "staff leasing", too, meaning
long-term, continual temporary work is nothing less than putting
under the protection of law that strategy of the bosses to use
workers as interposition of labour, administrated outside of
regular collective bargaining in order to get rid of all
contractual obligations and rules as laid down by law and union
bargaining, suc as Article 18.

The distructive effect of these manoevres can be countered by
extending to those who are not covered at present the right of
unfairly dismissed workers to their old jobs.

Winning this referendum for us means the start of a new season
of struggles. We must fight so that workers' protection,
workers' rights and the rules governing employment are extended
to that huge area of "untypical" workers who are either
unprotected or only barely so. Already in Italy there are about
2,400,000 workers on "co.co.co." [3] contracts - or 11% of the
total workforce.

Winning this referendum is possible. The huge mobilizations of
workers on 15the February, 23rd march and 16th April 2002
revealed the enormous potential for struggle which we are all
obliged to nurture. The battle for Article 18 risks becoming a
mere battle of principles if we do not use it as a launchpad for
renewed struggle against those policies which attack wages,
rights and the living conditions of millions of workers, young
people, old people and immigrants, policies carried out by this
Government riding the wave created by the previous centre-left
executives.

Winning this referendum will be a turning point. We can finally
leave behind us the days of income policies and partnerships and
open once and for all a phase of conflict which workers have
been demanding through their demonstrations, their strikes and
the mobilizations of recent years.

It is only the first step, but it is an important one. That is
why we are asking everyone to vote YES to this referendum.

If we want to block the attempt by Confindustria and the
Government to reduce labour and workers to the level of mere
merchandise, not only must we fight in order to hold on to the
rights that have already been won, but we must begin to fight
for an extension of rights to all those workers who do not enjoy
them.

This referendum is a first step in this direction. An essential
step, but one which at the same time is not sufficient on its
own - we must be aware that the only road towards the betterment
of workers' conditions lies in direct action by and
self-organization of the workers themselves. In the past, it was
the workers themselves who fought for and won what rights they
have, it was not thanks to any State referendum orlaw. This
referendum will be useless if we are unable to follow it up with
struggle, built from below and free of all bureaucratic
direction, towards the contruction of a unitary platform based
on the fight against temporary labour and for European-level
wages.

For all these reasons, the organized action of anarchists within
the unions and within all those proletarian groups which are
involved in the struggle can only be coordinated and directed
towards a common goal in defence of the immediate historic
interests of the exploited classes. The orientation of an
anarchist political organization can, therefore, only be clear
and unequivocable, avoiding all confusion regarding positions
and all contradictions. A politically significant choice in
these cases depends on the anarchist political organization
being able to make a united proposal, with positions which are
based on the material conditions of the present state of the
class conflict.

This is how the Federazione dei Comunisti Anarchici is oriented.
This is why the comrades of the FdCA have chosen to say YES.


FdCA Council of Delegates

Bologna 18th May 2003

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[1] From "Ancora di Repubblica e Rivoluzione", in "Pensiero e
volontà", 15th June 1924. Quoted in Errico Malatesta, "Scritti
scelti", edited by G. Cerrito, Rome, Savelli, 1973, p.148.

[2] The Italian industrialists federation.

[3] Workers with "continuative contracts of collaboration", in
effect permanent temporary status, without any of the
protections enjoyed by more "typical" workers.

-------------

Federazione dei Comunisti Anarchici

http://www.fdca.it/fdcaen/index.htm
internazionale@fdca.it


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