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(en) FdCA 6th Congress: Motion on Union Intervention (it)

From Federazione dei Comunisti Anarchici <internazionale@fdca.it>
Date Fri, 3 Sep 2004 08:14:13 +0200 (CEST)


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1. The international context
Over the past three years there has been a marked acceleration in the
processes of concentration of economic and political-military power,
both on an international level and on the level of single States, which
has marginalised those tendencies that, even though they are compatible
with capitalism, are working towards the development of a situation
which would see a plurality of powers and the introduction of
neo-reformist, statist policies. These then would be used to marry
ever-increasing capitalist profit with increasingly lower levels of
social protection.

Imperialist wars, financial crises, the de-regulation of the
institutional and legislative framework of protection for the lower
classes, the destruction of solidarity networks within the world of
waged labour, attacks on the environment and on our health - all these
are directly or indirectly felt by entire populations who
ever-increasingly find themselves in a position where they are unable
to organize themselves and express any form of dissent, protest or
struggle by which they could hope to try to change the current
situation. A situation which is the result of the economic, political
and military choices made by the power which governs us more and more
in the name of the regulations which it itself produces in order to...
govern.

The drastic reduction and erosion of the possibilities for debate and
negotiation, or their transformation into false negotiation tables
designed to safeguard capitalist compatibility, has revealed the hard
face of militaristic capitalism and the pathetic unwillingness of the
neo-reformist tendencies to safeguard even the most basic interests of
the dependant classes.

This is the situation in which we have seen the development of a large,
varied international opposition movement which has become a leading
player in the huge popular mobilizations. These mobilizations have been
significant because of the numbers participating in them, the evident
potential for self-organization and self-management and their ability
to stand up to the repression unleashed against them on the streets by
the various State apparata.


2. The national context

In Italy, these past three years have marked a definitive break-up of a
social framework which had been established in the last decade of the
20th century but which was seen to be inadequate in order to deal with
the current battles. On the one hand, the dramatic drop in the buying
power of wages (-9.3% for factory workers, -11.1% for office workers,
-27% for pensioners), on the other hand, the failure of incomes policy;
on one hand the bosses' arrogance in industrial planning (laws on
"mobility" and redundancies) and contract renewal (laws limiting wage
increases in line with planned inflation, irrespective of "official"
inflation, not to mention real inflation!!), while on the other hand we
see the failure of partnership deals; on the one hand, continual
restrictions on the rights of workers (the modification of Art.18 of
the Workers' Statute, Law No.30/2003, the anti-strike Law No.83/2000,
separate contracts without consultation), on the other hand, the crisis
in the system of representation imposed by the self-appointed major
unions.

The inevitable, consequent radicalization of conflict in the world of
labour has therefore permitted the re-emergence of that capacity (which
had never truly died) of the working class to re-discover its autonomy
in the struggle. We have seen many recent examples: from Fiat to the
struggles of temporary workers, from the metal workers to the transport
workers. With the partnership system broken, power ratios are once
again important, together with the ability to struggle and defend
specific interests of the workers without any neo-corporative
restrictions. Though the wage battle in many categories may be long and
hard, the question once again arises regarding total bargaining
independence and the untouchability of the right to strike, which is
slowly freeing itself of the straightjacket of anti-strike laws and
union codes of self-regulation.

Labour struggles have become intertwined with other social struggles
such as those for the rights of migrants, for the protection of the
environment, for peace, and against prohibition. This joining of the
struggles is taking place in the context of a society which has been
expertly torn apart by the ignominious application of "terrorist"
against anyone who dares oppose the supreme designs of the executive.

There has been no phase of the class struggle over the last three years
which has not seen the social movements fall victim to repressive
preventative treatment with the full force of the media behind it. This
repression has also afftected labour struggles in many ways:
disciplinary measures against workers, dismissals, legal injunctions,
police charges on the streets and so on, all of which has noticeably
increased in intensity since the strikes of 2002.


3. The union response

3.1 The conflict which has developed in recent years has had the effect
of greatly embarassing the union bureaucracies who had become
accustomed to an easy life following ten years of partnership deals.

It immediately became clear that they were unable to handle the
situation which was created by the growing levels of contention.

It is not therefore surprising that when the leadership of
Confindustria [1] changed, changing also its political line, the
leaders of the confederal unions [2], with one exception, allowed
themselves to fall under the spell of neo-partnership. The proof of the
pudding being the recent agreement on distance work.

We can presumably hypothesize the re-introduction of a policy of wage
moderation with the excuse this time of saving the country from
industrial decline, naturally at the expense, once again, of the
workers.

In the recent past, wage policy has been accompanied by a policy of
temporarization of work (see, for example, the "Treu Packet" and the
"Biagi Law") and the abolition of rights.

For employers, however, this has been matched by a net drop in the cost
of labour for businesses, greater profits together with a less
permanent and less qualified workforce (a situation which is also due
to having chosen the "low" road to industrial development, choosing
competition over the cost of labour and giving up on policies of
technological innovation) which is consequently more easily changed and
more controllable, thanks also to the erosion of contracts.

It is also foreseeable that job precariousness will be joined by a
further attack on the state pensions system, doing away with the TFR
[3] and creating a system of private pension funds.

This operation will go to further increasing the mass of capital which
feeds the financial circuit, congruent with the tendency towards an
ever-greater importance of financial capital with respect to productive
capital as we already discussed in our document on the current economic
phase:

"The latter in particular links finance to quick profit, limiting
long-term investment (such as education), which alone can hope to
create a stable system."

In line with all this is probably also the forthcoming pension reform,
with a further rise in the pensionable age. This reform will increase
the number of those yet to receive their pensions who will not even be
guaranteed an amount which is sufficient to survive on.

3.2 At present, the lone odd-man-out among the confederal unions is the
FIOM [4]. Within the FIOM there has developed deep debate regarding
incomes policy which resulted in the success of the "left" during the
23rd congress (which had been called early) which easily succeeded in
passing a motion which serves to impose a strong veto on the
re-proposal of a new incomes policy and a new form of partnership.

It remains to be seen how this "anomaly" will be dealt with by the
confederal unions, where a new incomes policy is mostly looked on
approvingly.

3.3 In these last three years, the new combative approach by the CGIL
(with all its organizational strengths and its 5 million members) has
obviously made life harder for the grassroots unions.

These grassroots unions seem to be forcing themselves into acting in
such a way that places more emphasis on distinguishing themselves from
the CGIL than seeking to build a large mass movement against the
government. This has been dramatically repeated on more than one
occasion during recent strikes last autumn against the destruction of
state pensions, and was made even worse by the divisions which appeared
amongst the various grassroots unions.

This progressive collapse of those alliances which took much time and
effort to build is leading to a reduction in the ability of the
grassroots unions to co-ordinate on a national level and is threatening
even the whole principle of grassroots unions. An example are the
repeated, distinct and contradictory strikes which have been called by
the leaderships of some of these unions.

3.4 On a local and category level, grassroots syndicalism is succeeding
in carrying out three functions which are fundamental to its spread
around the country in a decentralised fashion, which could be
considered to be the future nerve centre of the class struggle:

* they offer practical help and hope for the autonomous expression of
the workers, in places where traditional syndicalist organizations are
either absent or else are contrary to worker self-organization;

* they are able to halt the dispersion of union militants who are
escaping the CGIL-CISL-UIL;

* they guarantee union democracy in workplaces where grassroots unions
are successful in obtaining votes to elect their representatives;

* they are ensuring a continuation of combativity at a time when the
changing political scene could force the confederal unions into
accepting new forms of partnership.

3.5 To this general situation must be added the recent exemplary
struggle of the local transport workers. Exemplary because it is an
example of mass self-organization, and has succeeded in involving ever
greater sectors of the population, unmasking the unions and the
centre-left scene (made up not only of a multitude of parties, but also
many of the larger consumers' associations), which supports the
privatization of public services and which pays more attention to the
success of "Italy Inc." than it does to the needs of the workers and
citizens.

3.6 It is necessary to have the greatest possible solidarity between
the various categories of workers in order to fight off the attempts to
criminalize any attempt to promote self-organization against the
establish order and "national security". It is necessary to have the
largest-possible mass mobilizations in order to protect the workers in
struggle from repression. It will be necessary for all
anti-bureaucratic and anti-authoritarian social and political forces to
work towards transforming social unease and exasperation into a
libertarian programme of struggle and autonomy.


4. Our general attitude

Recent struggles have revealed a new connection between wage demands
and demands for the freedom to strike on the one hand and
demonstrations of class autonomy other other, something which had not
been seen for quite some time.

On a general level, we need to react against the current privatization
process; therefore forthcoming National Contract renewals need to
concentrate on wages and on slowing down the privatizations, while at
the same time putting a halt to wage limits in order to protect
National Contracts.

We must emphasize the central nature of the wage struggle in the
re-building of class unity, as was indicated in our current Programme
(adopted during the December 1997 Congress of the FdCA). However, the
wage struggle must be part of an all-embracing social platform in which
the question of wages must considered to include direct, indirect and
deferred wages. This struggle for global salary must be founded on a
renewed central role for wage bargaining, which is a part of the
struggle based on listening to the needs of the working class and the
transformation of these needs into demands. These demands must be
inclusive and must allow the level of consciousness and class unity to
rise. This is the ideal and material dimension in which grassroots
union organization and union representation from below can be built.

The crisis in the contractual system produced under the agreements of
1992-93, must make us reflect on the one hand on the necessary defence
of the double contracting level and, on the other hand, on the process
of federalization and regionalization which is also taking place in the
world of labour, with the consequent shifting of decisive union
struggles and contractual struggle to a local level and even to the
sub-local level (single factories).


5. Our role in the workplace, in the community and in the unions

We choose the worker over the union, we choose the unity of the workers
over the union, we support the struggles of the workers for the defence
of their interests independently of the form or the union or of any
type of syndicalism as long as it brings about an improvement in the
proletariat's living conditions and leads to the introduction of more
freedom within society. And if, in these struggles and/or unions, we
succeed in having some effect and our ideas serve as a "guide", we will
have served to strengthen the autonomy of the workers and promote the
role of class-struggle anarchism. We will, in other words, have engaged
in real revolutionary syndicalism, real anarcho-syndicalism, real
libertarian syndicalism, real... syndicalism.

Every different work situation determines the choice of one union
organizational form over another, and not just our revolutionary
desires. It is the nature of the strengths involved which increase the
possibilities of combative syndicalism with a libertarian praxis, and
not just the fact that we are anarchists.

The existence of more advanced militants and class-struggle sectors
within the internal opposition of the CGIL or in various alternative
unions must be considered an objective fact. Whether we like it or not.
A strategy can only be built on what is possible, not only on what is
right. However, combative syndicalism with a libertarian praxis cannot
exist without 3 factors:

* autonomy from the control of political parties

* unity of the workers, to be achieved through the definition of a
general platform for combative syndicalism: unity of aims and methods
of struggle;

* revolutionary strength, to be achieved through a libertarian form of
internal organization in all types of union; this is true not only for
the elaboration of a general platform but also in its application
during the phase of bargaining.


6. Labour Platform

* for union and political freedoms: freedom to strike; freedom of
assembly; freedom to organize in a union and freedom of expression in
the workplace; full freedom of action for all unions;

* for employment and struggle against precariousness of employment and
any de-structuralization of the labour market; struggle against new
forms of day-work and against temping agencies: abolition of Law
No.30/2003; pay parity for job parity;

* for a basic European minimum wage; defence and promotion of indirect
wages and social services; defence and promotion of deferred wages with
self-determination for workers regarding the TFR and its re-valuation
based on the current cost of living;

* for the integration of migrant workers into the contractual system of
employment in host countries, with full rights and pay parity;

* against discrimination in rights a social guarantees, in forms of
labour and work contracts, on the basis of the production and
social-cultural characteristics of any community; struggle against the
re-introduction of wage limits;

* for access to social services by anyone who needs them; struggle
against the privatization of social services including education,
health care, transport, energy, telecommunications, etc.;

* against emargination from the world of labour;

* for pay parity between the sexes

* for internationalist support in the struggle of the workers of other
countries and other economic areas;

* for free (both in cost and in spirit), public, non-religious
education for all;

* for the right to enjoy the environment and health, neither negotiable
nor for sale, for a better quality of life;

* against the repression of labour struggles, for constant
counter-information, for the promotion of the organization and the
strengthening of defence organizations (resistance funds, observatories
on repression, solidarity alliances for comrades affected by
disciplinary measures, legal aid networks);

* for the re-launching of Council Syndicalism: all are electors, all
are eligible; blank vote; revocability; department representatives on a
mandate given by the assembly; bargaining delegates elected by workers
at every stage of the discussions.


7. Labour strategy of the Anarchist Communists

It is in the workplace that the greatest levels of exploitation and
discord are encountered, and it is there that the unity of interests
between workers with different forms of contract must be re-built. It
is essential to take back into our own hands the right to bargain in a
decentralized manner, to safeguard our right to health, to manage our
working hours in order to better manage our lives, to eliminate the
link between wages and productivity and the blackmail of overtime.
Co-ordinating groups of representative delegates from the various
sectors and various other types of workers such as temporary workers
and migrants, could represent forms of co-operation, unity and
struggle.

In the comunity, it is the task of Anarchist Communists to develop
places and situations where workers can meet and discuss strategy
irrespective of which union they belong to. Richness can be provided by
differing union experiences, from the self-managed to the syndicated
and to those activists who pursue struggle objectives (partial or more
general), all of which can go towards federating the workers who are
members of different union organizations. Inter-union "Chambers of
Labour", citizens' labour forums, regional coalitions of grassroots
unions - these can all be places where the united defence of the class
interests of workers, temporary workers and migrants can be developed.

On a national level, it should be anarchist union activists who ensure
that it is possible to federate sectors of the class with union
activists and grassroots unions, on a platform with firm objectives and
principles regarding wages, working hours, rights, services and union
democracy.

All this in order to...

"(...) that general union action can be made more efficient in the
wide-scale struggle, re-build the unity of the workers, re-establish
class solidarity, give back to the world of labour (and not only
labour) the necessary union democracy and programmatic autonomy for a
more equal and more libertarian society" (from the "Appeal to anarchist
and libertarian union activists", FdCA, 2001)



Motion adopted by the
F.d.C.A. - FEDERAZIONE dei COMUNISTI ANARCHICI
6th NATIONAL CONGRESS
CREMONA 19th-20th JUNE 2004


Translator's Notes:

[1] The industrial employers' federation.
[2] The so-called "confederal unions" are the three major union
federations in Italy, the CGIL, CISL and UIL.
[3] "Trattamento di fine rapporto", money deducted from employees'
wages and paid to them on leaving their jobs.
[4] The metalworkers union, federated to the CGIL.


http://www.fdca.it/fdcaen


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