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(en) The Italian Union, By Massimiliano Illari USI - ANA (pt) [machine translation]

Date Sat, 15 Feb 2020 14:03:09 +0200

The Italian Union Union (USI) is a revolutionary and libertarian union founded in 1912, after a split from CGdL (later CGIL, General Confederation of Labor), a reformist union linked to the Socialist Party. Several CGdL unions rejected the elections and their centralized union model, experimenting with other organizational forms that came together at the first USI Congress in Modena. ---- From its founding in 1912 until the consolidation of fascism, the USI had almost 500,000 members, characterized by a combative action on all fronts where it had a presence. From an ideological point of view, it is in favor of neutrality when the First World War broke out, libertarian and anti-fascist, which paid with the illegality decreed by the fascists, the destruction of their headquarters, periodicals and the arrest or exile of many of their militants. At the end of the Second World War, it was attempted to carry out its reconstruction, but the political and union scene, as well as the incomprehension of part of the anarchist movement, did not make it possible. Yes, it was possible in the late 1970s, when a new generation of activists reactivated the USI.

Currently, most of the members (between 800 and 1000 people) come from Public Health, particularly in Milan - with around 500 -, a city in which the presence of USI in several hospitals is historic. Health USI is present in Florence, Parma, Trieste and companions scattered throughout Italy. The Health union will celebrate its National Congress this October in Parma.

Other relatively numerous sections are in Parma (70-80 members), Trieste (50), Modena (40), Ancona, Reggio Emilia, Bologna, Florence and Venice.

The USI works internally in an assembly and federal way: the sections must respect the statutes and our principles, being able to organize themselves as they see fit, either as territorial sections or around the workplace. Decisions are made exclusively by those involved. There are three national decision-making bodies: the Executive Committee meetings, in which the members elected in Congress participate, open to membership; the National Committees of Delegates, which take place every three or four months; and, the Congress, which is celebrated every three years and in which it participates according to specific regulation.

In companies, workers decide autonomously how to organize themselves. There are places where you operate individually; in others, where it is still possible (the latest labor reforms limit the capacities of this organizational form) through the Union Representation of Enterprise: collective body representing groups of workers affiliated to a recognized union that operates in the same work context. In other companies, as part of the Union Union Representation (RSU), a collective body representing all workers from the same work context, who are elected through elections among the team. This form of representation was the subject of continuous debate. The current posture of USI continues to be critical with RSU, agreeing that the decision to participate or not is up to the workers.

The rights of the working class have suffered a noticeable deterioration in the last thirty years, and, in parallel, class consciousness and labor combativeness have been remarkably reduced, to the point that passivity, delegation of responsibilities or servility is the main feature at work. It is also true that there are periodically generous attempts to fight. USI seeks to encourage the latter and if they are carried out by other "grassroots" unions, we try to show solidarity with them.

Current legislation makes it difficult for the union to negotiate with companies, suffering union repression, particularly during strikes, currently with more legal limitations. In 2014 Confindustria, the Italian CEOE, and the majority unions, CGIL, CISL and UIL, signed a law on labor representation that benefits them in exchange for further limiting the right to strike. This agreement was signed by USB, the most numerous grassroots union. USI calls for strikes with unions that have not signed this agreement.

The labor struggles that the USI carries out are multiple, although most of them are individual cases. We have self-managed trade union windows, structured in different ways, in different sections; in Parma, for example, in 2018 they took a hundred cases, resolved positively on 95% of the occasions.

In all the places in which the anarcho-syndical is present, the struggle, whether small or large, is a constant. This is the case of the San Rafael Hospital in Milan, where a strike was called in April with a demonstration in which more than 700 people participated, obtaining the fixed hiring of precarious workers, various economic incentives as well as supplements.

In Trieste, USI mobilized against the dismantling of reception services for immigrants; in Parma, against the new Social Cooperatives contract. In the Marche Region, the creation of an agrarian union linked to the union is being organized, which not only aims at defending workers in the sector, but which also takes care of developing alternative productions.

Finally, it is worth highlighting the experience of Self-managed Solidarity, an organization that, from a libertarian perspective, seeks to give concrete help in the face of natural disasters. The experience emerged with the 2012 Modena earthquake, when the local section provided aid to the hard-hit population, and continued during the Le Marche earthquake. Among other initiatives, USI supported the March 8 general strike; and as a historically anti-militarist organization that we are, we periodically conduct pacifist studies, debates and mobilization days.

One of USI's goals is to improve internal organization and, above all, concrete union action. We need active sections, present with an operative union window, with reference lawyers and with the possibility of accessing services such as the unemployment claim, tax assistance, etc.

The International Labor Confederation (CIT )), founded in 2018 in Parma, is important for USI for several reasons: for the diversity of struggles, to maintain international contacts, to exchange experiences, for solidarity, to have the ability to intervene on a larger scale in conflicts with multinationals; on the other hand, in an age characterized by the aggressive return of excluding nationalism, we propose internationalism. Anarcho-syndicalism has concrete characteristics that must remain: the total independence of any party and the state; assemblearism in decision-making processes; the determination to fight the boss and the government. But anarcho-syndicalism is not necessary! We seek, in return, to extend the consensus in continuous coherence with the ideas that we profess, with all the limits that we have, sure that only example and action are the best advertisement for what we think and say. We believe in anarcho-syndicalism so much that we should not be afraid to take it to people, in a credible way and without ever taking a step back from our principles.


Translation> Sol de Abril

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