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(en) Italy - FdCA Statement: Strikes Without Illusions, Rebuilding the unity of the working class [it]

Date Fri, 09 Nov 2007 09:05:33 +0200

4 strikes with national and regional demonstrations in 10 days. It looks like a busy autumn for struggle. But it is mostly an autumn filled with anger. It started on 26th October with public-sector workers, then came the turn of the education sector on 27th October. The former were demanding a decent contract, and both sectors were demanding more resources from the 2008 Budget for pay. Several million workers increasingly defenceless with regard to their jobs and their pay, who contract renewals (and pay rises) drag on for two or even three years, who constantly see their "regular" pay dropping and their (non-pensionable) productivity-linked "extras" rising, who work side-by-side with hundreds of thousands of precarious, externalized, outsourced colleagues who are the result and the victims of privatizations that hit workers and citizens alike, the so-called consumers. Once again it was the workers' anger that fuelled the strike, not any hardline stance from the mainstream CGIL, CISL and UIL unions. They had no serious objections to the strike, given that nothing was at stake: there was no real possibility of the government collapsing (despite the threats in the days leading up to the workers' referendum on the 23rd July Paper), nor any real danger of government-unions talks breaking down.

On 30th October it was the metal-workers' turn for a nationwide strike in
demand of an improved national contract. This is the one sector that came out
strongly for a "No" vote in the 23rd July Paper referendum, the sector that has
been most affected by anti-union repression in the factories, the sector
represented by the FIOM union which has become more determined in its struggle
recently. They faced up to triumphant, arrogant bosses led by the
industrialists federation, Confindustria, which is eager to win all its
demands: from full control over flexibility and hours to a complete reform of
the bargaining process. And wages are, of course, a consequent variable. The
success of this strike may strengthen the workers' position as far as
bargaining is concerned, but let there be no illusions: the mainstream union
management will be under enormous pressure from the employers and the

On 9th November, the grassroots unions will be striking, affecting all sectors.
The strike will be split up into many regional demonstrations, though the joint
efforts by the various unions involved will ensure the success of this day of
abstention from work. However, once again Italy's alternative syndicalism has
been unable to produce a global approach that is required if any serious
challenge to the partnership-friendly mainstream unions is to be launched.

We must ensure that the mobilization involves the entire opposition forces in
every workplace, starting with those factories and workplaces which
overwhelmingly voted "No" in the recent 23rd July Paper referendum.

The looming clash on the bargaining process in Italy, on wage structures and on
flexibility linked to productivity that produces increasing precarity, demands
the re-building of workers' unity and serious attempts at a united alternative
form of syndicalism, starting in the workplace, in the community, and reaching
national level.

The wage struggle must be won if there is to be any effect on the
re-distribution of wealth and if workers are to see any immediate improvement
in their living conditions. Increasing wages by reducing taxes is nothing more
than a false illusion. There must be a widespread and ongoing demand for better
wages by all sectors and by all workers, be they in fixed or temporary

The pity shown by the Governor of the Bank of Italy is useless to us, nor is
FIAT's charity [1]. A miserably-paid working class is a class that has lost its
autonomy and is easy prey to blackmail and division.

For serious wage increases in all sectors, for union freedoms and rights, for
our freedom to live at the pace we choose,

For the unity of all workers!


29 October 2007


1. The reference is to a comment made by Mario Draghi, Governor of the Banca
d'Italia, that wages were too low and to the recent decision by FIAT to give
workers' a €30 rise as a result of the company's hugely-increased profits over
recent times.
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