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(en) Italy, by Federazione dei Comunisti Anarchici - FdCA - A poor summer

Date Mon, 14 Jul 2008 11:49:53 +0300



The purchasing power of our wages is collapsing, pensions conceded by the
government allow no dignity to old age, despite the odd arrogant handout. Low
wages provoke a general fall in consumption. We just cannot cope with inflation,
with the price of oil and food or with our mortgage instalments. But what
matters if the workers are poorer and poorer? ---- A poor summer ---- Summer is
here and the conditions of all those of us who depend on wages and pensions are
getting rapidly worse. All thanks to mortgages, to the services of a welfare
state that costs more and more, to death that awaits us in the workplace, to the
shortage of dignified work that can assure our future.

The purchasing power of our wages is collapsing (-20% acording to OECD),
pensions conceded by the government allow no dignity to old age, despite the odd
arrogant handout.

Low wages provoke a general fall in consumption. We just cannot cope with
inflation, with the price of oil and food or with our mortgage instalments.

But what matters if the workers are poorer and poorer? The banks are always
ready to help us: get yourself a loan. But sooner or later we have to pay it
back, maybe with the help of another loan, and so on. Capitalism grabs you by
the throat. It wants to take back every cent (with interest) of your pay cheque
that has today become a sort of subsistance benefit, that makes up only 4-5% of
every €100 of the value of the goods we prouce. And we do still produce.

The question of wages is being removed from the point of prodction and the
workplace: wage insufficiency is being presented as a sort of pathological
plague, the cure to which will mostly be based on contributions from the
patient, in other words the worker.

A stream of unreliable, unqualified doctors arrive at our bedside. The first to
our aid is the goverment bringing tax adjustments (cancellation of the local
authority house tax, de-taxing of overtime, etc.) which we have to pay for with
our taxes and at the price of wage increases; next up is the sympathetic
attention of the governor of the Bank of Italy (who suggests we buy cheap
government bonds!); the employers' federation, Confindustria, is worried about
us (and wants to give us money - not its money, of course - tax money); lastly,
we receive the attention of the unions in their desperation, who hope to rake up
a little more available money for us through reform of labour contracts, in
exchange for productivity (greater exploitation) at a decentralized level and in
the meantime put their hopes in the tax man.

But all this cannot halt the plummeting purchasing power of wages. The cures
that have been announced have no hope of working. Because they have been tried
before, and they avoid the problem of constant impoverishment faced with price
and tariff rises.

And not only that; the conviction still remains that an (inexistant) increase in
wages will provoke inflation, so the government sets the planned ceiling at 1.7%
and the Central European Bank promptly raises the lending rate by 0.25%,
indifferent to whether or not Europe's economy is booming or slumping.

The social question of wages must be brought back into the workplace and the
points of production (local, national, European); it must be brought back into
the places where public services are provided at affordable rates; it must be
brought back into decent policies for social welfare.

True reform of bargaining lies in relaunching a wide-scale battle for wages that
aims for consistent increases all over, starting from the European minimum wage,
that can reduce the impact of payroll extras (bonuses, incentives, etc.) and the
tendency towards individual contracts, that can re-establish a mechanism that
automatically takes account of inflation, that can return rights and bargaining
power to the workers' grassroots bodies in the workplace.

Faced with the government's urgent decrees, the workers must provide their own
urgent response. We must regain our faith in ourselves and our organizational
abilities. In the CGIL, there is the worker-called assembly in Rome on 23 July;
in the grassrots unions, there are new initiatives for cooperation. All this can
help us to regain our autonomy and our ability to mobilize around concrete
objectives, around immediate interests, and without politicking shortcuts.

Rarely have we seen capitalism attack the working class with such a well-aimed
and all-embracing crisis, both in Italy and thoughout the world, acting on
inflation together with the prices of raw materials and agricultural products in
a climate of war and terror, of racism and State repression.

The Right won the elections. But let us not allow panic, resignation and
atomization to hand them over not only our votes but also our consciousness as
exploited.

The cure for our ills is the same as ever: it depends on our ability to organize
and remain autonomous, so that we can emancipate ourselves from capitalism and
the State, so that we can build a self-managed, solid society.

Making foundations, building, advancing, organizing, giving the best of ourselves.
Federazione dei Comunisti Anarchici
8 July 2008

http://www.fdca.it/fdcaen
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