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(en) Italy: Alternativa Libertaria, 16-31 Nov.04 - These strikes ARE useful (it)

From Federazione dei Comunisti Anarchici <internazionale@fdca.it>
Date Sat, 4 Dec 2004 09:10:17 +0100 (CET)

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In these days of the first-past-the-post parliamentary system, general strikes
no longer strike fear into the heart of the system or wipe out governments as
they did in the good old days of PR. And there have certainly been enough
strikes, general and not, since the Berlusconi government has been in power.
All of them have been defensive strikes, attempts to prevent or halt the spread
of such cancers as the Biagi labour law, pension reform, job security
(including Article 18) and education reform. Not to mention the last 4 Budgets.
But despite the thousands of hours' worth of strikes and the hundreds of
thousands of striking workers, the Berlusconian cancer has already wreaked its
damage on the living conditions of workers. General strikes begin to have an
air of ritual about them and the political and union elites have begun treating
them as consensus-seeking opportunities.

So are these strikes useless? Anything but! The general strikes, in which the
workers have so generously participated whether they were called by the major
unions of the grassroots unions, have been and will continue to be useful for
creating the conditions to defeat the government coalition's neo-liberal
policies in the workplace and on the streets even before reaching the polling
booths. They also serve as a warning to the Olive Tree coalition not to be
tempted into taking a similar neo-liberal direction.

This is why we welcome the general strike on 30th November (called by
Cgil-Cisl-Uil) and the one on 3rd December (called by CUB and USI-AIT) despite
the difference in platforms and the awful practice of different dates. These
labour struggles are yet another indication of the difference between the
interests of the working class who are victims of the government's laws and
policies and the governing class which has produced them. We are on this side,
you are on that side. But there is unfortunately no shortage of
bridge-builders: you can find them in the Olive Tree coalition and in the ranks
of the major unions and they speak with forked tongue. Unclear too is the
position of the industrialists' federation, Confindustria, which is speculating
on these general strikes to further weaken the government's position.

But the mass of workers waiting for a renewal of their national labour
contracts is enormous and the examples of autonomy last winter from transport
and industrial workers are proof of the fact that the age of partnership has
had to give way to a greater role for the workers themselves in the struggles
for the renewal of contracts. Public sector employees mobilized, teachers went
on strike, transport and industrial workers mobilized, all aware that at stake
were not only wages and jobs but also dignity and the defence of class

The strikes in various sectors are further evidence of the irreconcilable
nature of the interests of workers and neo-liberal policies in the public and
private sectors. In a situation where the direct and indirect wages of
contracted workers are used to feed the financial markets and support tax
reductions for the power caste which supports Berlusconi, the inter-classism of
the Cisl and Uil and the post-reformism of the Cgil are beginning to sprout
leaks, and the only option remaining to the workers is to take the initiative
and organise themselves for the defence of their class interests autonomously
in the hope that the grassroots unions waste no time deciding which of them is
to get the upper hand.

Given the situation, libertarian and anarchist union activists have the
difficult task of seeking to co-ordinate their forces so that the struggle will
be united and rooted from below in the workplace and in the community. This is
the time to spread a new class consciousness, a new desire for a social
revival, a demand for direct democracy in the unions, and an active role in
wage and labour bargaining.

FdCA Labour Commission
November 2004


Alternativa Libertaria - November 2004 (2nd issue)
online news-sheet of the FdCA

Download it in PDF format from:

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