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(en) Italy: FdCA statement on referendum (it)

From Federazione dei Comunisti Anarchici <internazionale@fdca.it>
Date Fri, 20 Jun 2003 04:56:47 +0200 (CEST)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E

The class struggle is no triumphal march. The history of the
emancipation of the exploited is littered with advances and
retreats. We are materialist and though we are guided by the
revolutionary's genetic optimism, we are fully aware that the
struggles that we work in through the movements and unions can
either be successful or can be blocked for one reason or
another. And the more these struggles aim to create democratic
spaces, to increase wages for everyone, to extend political,
social and labour rights to wider sectors of the working classes
(especially in these days of growing job and wage insecurity),
the harsher the response of the capitalists in order to defend
their class interests.

It is in this knowledge that anarchist communists worked for a
positive result in the referendum on the extension of Article 18
of the Workers' Statute [1]. It was a battle which sought to
make the most of the power to effect changes which a referendum
enjoys in order to bypass parliament and allow a further 6
million workers the benefit of the protection offered by Article
18. This would have created no end of problems for the Pact for
Italy [2] and for its plans to suspend Art.18 protection for
companies which in the future cross the threshold of 15

Unfortunately, the FdCA was the only anarchist federation to
declare its open support for this battle and to join the "Vote
Yes" committees. Other areas of anarchism remained imprisoned in
the trap of ideological abstentionism, in embarassing company,
and were reduced to a confused form of politics which put them
on the same level as Confindustria [3] and the government.

The answer given by the latter two together with a large part of
the Ulivo [4] was a tough one: the blackmailing of employees in
small companies, dire warnings of a jobs crisis, the brandishing
of abstentionism, media disinformation and so on. They did not
win, but they did stop the YES voters from winning. And the
stakes were high. As they couldnt not limit themselves to a NO
vote, they aimed to ensure that the quorum [5] would not be
reached, thereby halting the spread of unions in small companies
and derogating to parliament and parliament alone the power over
the regulation of labour. They did not win, but they were able
to block any change in power relations, which are in their
favour at the moment.

And if we thought that 3 million people on the streets of Rome
on 23rd March 2002 was a huge demonstration of social opposition
to the government and a challenge to the centre-left, what are
we supposed to think about the 11 million people who voted YES?
Are they just victims of a perfidious year-old political joust
between Bertinotti and Cofferati? [6] Are they just victims of
the State and of that institutional mechanism that is the
referendum? Or are they the demonstration today of the existence
of vast sectors of the population who are willing to show their
opposition to the government's policies and who are ready to go
beyond the ambiguities of certain unions and certain centre-left
parties? Are those 11 million people an expression of
uselessness, or are they a sign that there is widespread
awareness of the present struggle?

Now that the referendum is over we are back to where we were on
23rd March 2002: the proposed law No.848bis to modify Article 18
is still there, waiting to be approved by parliament. But now we
know, one year on, that there are 8 million more of us. They did
not let us win, but we are comforted by the fact that our work
within the movements, the unions and the community will continue
in order to promote social opposition, self-management of the
struggle and the deisre for an alternative ... a libertarian

National Secretariat


for international contacts: internazionale@fdca.it


Translator's Notes:

[1] Article 18 provides for protection from unfair dismissal for
workers in companies which have more than 15 employees and its
absence in smaller companies is one of the main reasons for the
poor union membership of these workers. Large companies are
nowadays splitting into smaller ones, or "farming out" labour in
order to avoid Art.18

[2] "Patto per Italia". A "partnership" agreement for
cooperation between the government and the reformist unions.

[3] Italian industrial employers federation.

[4] Main centre-left coalition of parties.

[5] Italian referendums require a turnout of 50% plus 1 of all
voters in order to be valid.

[6] Fausto Bertinotti, lider maximo of Rifondazione Comunista;
Sergio Cofferati, ex-lider maximo of the CGIL and great white
hope of the Left Democrats (DS).

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