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(en) Italy: FdCA Labour Commission statement on the January 16/17 rail strike (it)

From Federazione dei Comunisti Anarchici <internazionale@fdca.it>
Date Fri, 21 Jan 2005 16:11:13 +0100 (CET)

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The 24-hour rail strike called by some workers' representatives responsible for
safety measures together with the SULT and CUB Trasporti grassroots unions on
the mandate of a self-organized assembly of railworkers in Bologna on 12
January has been a great success. It is the first time in over a decade that
Italian railworkers have called for and observed a strike on their own
initiative, without any interference on the part of the traditional unions.
They were able to do this by using one of the few loopholes in current
anti-strike legislation.

The result was more than satisfying, with over 80% of railworkers striking. The
number of strikers was well over the figures one would expect for a strike
called by the two small unions who called the strike together with
representatives of workers responsible for rail safety.

Both the self-managed workers' assembly in Bologna and the strike itself caught
the main railway unions (FILT-CGIL, FIT-CISL, UILT, SMA, UGL and ORSA) by
surprise and their attempt (especially on the part of FILT-CGIL) to
de-legitimize this action failed miserably.

Clearly, it is far too early to make any predicitons about the birth of a
self-managed workers' movement or a renewal in self-managed struggles in the
railways sector, but certainly the basis does exist for this. This sector is in
a worse state today than it has ever been in. The new national labour contract
which has been in force for over 18 months, has brought about unbearable living
and working conditions, in particular with regard to train personnel and
drivers. The company continues to be dismantled with entire areas being
externalized, causing more and more redundancies of people whose jobs are more
frequently "covered" by staff on part-time, temporary or apprentice contracts
and at times even by people brought in from the temporary agencies. In the
meantime, the liberalization drive (modelled on the British system) proceeds on
its unstoppable path, leaving a trail of destruction, injuries and deaths. The
traditional leftist parties are not free of fault regarding the situation,
given that the infamous directives providing for the liberalization of the
railways date from the Prodi and D'Alema governments. Neither are the principal
trade unions free of blame and they too continue to accept the situation in one
way or another.

It is pointless asking, as the politicians on the traditional left and the
principal unions do, for greater investments in safety when the railways are
being ripped apart by liberalization/privatization.

It is pointless because it is exactly the areas of maintenance and safety
(apart from job levels and the cost of labour) that the FS Group is attacking
through its private-sector behaviour. The problem is one of structure and it is
necessary to put a halt immediately to the criminal liberalization of the
railways. Only a national, state-owned rail system which is not trying to
create profit can guarantee efficient, comfortable and safe transport to
citizens and allow rail workers to improve their wages and working conditions
through labour struggle. Anything other than this is simply the law of the
jungle, with hundreds of private transport-sector companies bent on making
profit even if it means having to forego safety measures and employ temporary,
underpaid workers. It is a disquieting scenario, but one which yesterday's
strike has firmly cast in doubt.

We Anarchist Communist railway workers, who participated in the Bologna
Assembly and worked for and joined the self-managed strike, intend to go on
working towards the building of a truly self-managed movement of railway
workers whose principal objective will be the struggle against liberalization.
In line with the platform of demands from the Bologna Assembly, we will also be
fighting for the immedaite return to their jobs of our colleagues who were
fired for telling the truth (now plain for everyone to see) about the state of
the railways in Italy on the "Report" television programme and also for the
immediate withdrawal of the suspensions (running into hundreds of days) of
those conductors and drivers who were "guilty" of demanding that safety
measures be respected and of having contact with the media. Finally, we will
continue our battle against a despicable national labour contract for our
sector which has set conditions back over 50 years and for the construction
from the grassroots level of an alternative contractual platform for rail

Genoa, 18th January 2005

FdCA Labour Commission
("Viktor Balach" Railworkers Cell)


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