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(en) Sicilia Libertaria: Battles. Work less, work all, for equal pay. A GAME TO PLAY WELL (ca, de, it, pt, tr)[machine translation]

Date Sat, 18 Mar 2023 08:33:07 +0200

The litany of the economic crisis constantly afflicts us, a crisis that from time to time has weighted and articulated explanations: the difficulties of China, the serious problems of the United States, a giant on the waning avenue, the recovery of the economy in the post pandemic that has triggered an inflationary spiral, Russia's treacherous war against Ukraine and the resulting energy and grain crisis, to name a few factors characterizing the global economy; if we then come to the Italian situation, we appeal to those phantom structural limits that would prevent finally lasting growth of the national company: lack of infrastructure, low productivity, low internal and external competitiveness. The data that are pitted at every opportunity, by Istat, Eurostat, the Bank of Italy and dozens of other institutes of various kinds and nature, certify this state of perennial crisis, except occasionally mentioning some indicator that in a few months , or quarter registers a positive sign, useful for raising morale. But the general picture returned is that of a situation that for decades now has been screwed up in a continuous state of difficulty, not to mention the previous and punctual crises of the capitalist system, studied by economists through the so-called cycles. However, this constancy, rather than identifying the market and capitalist economy - despite having favorable conditions such as cheap labor and unlimited use of natural and collective resources - is responsible for the failure and an intrinsic inability to respond to needs at times elements of the whole society, is presented as the result of the limitations of the potential that the market and capital would otherwise be able to release. Thus the emphasis placed on the crisis is transformed into a powerful tool for imposing substantial job precariousness - after time we start talking again about poor workers, forced to carry out more activities, not counting the many unemployed or inactive, as they are classified from statistics - in the name of an alleged national corporate interest. While on the contrary the huge inequalities certified even by institutions would represent a small inconvenience necessary for the circuit that ensures the well-being of the majority to start again. First investments and profits, then better wages and salaries, it is argued: an alleged economic law that has never been proven.

In this depressing picture in which axioms - growth, competitiveness, etc. - are taken for granted, even by those who should oppose them, mirages appear on the horizon from time to time that focus public attention and function as perfect distractors. A last one, which has been discussed for a few weeks, is that of the reduction of working hours for equal wages, in order to expand the number of employed people, said in a trade union language. Naturally in Italy such a proposal has sparked the clear opposition of the business world which accuses them of not being able to bear the costs of such an operation in a moment of difficulty. Others believe that, in addition to having employment benefits, reducing working hours to four days a week would lead to an improvement in productivity, due to the fact that workers would work more attentively and with less stress. To support this, the positive experiments carried out in Iceland and those started in Spain are cited.

In a recent interview with the newspaper La Stampa, Maurizio Landini, general secretary of the CGIL, also supports the cause of the reduction in working hours. When the journalist asks him: "How do you get to the new world?", Landini replies: "In many ways, but certainly with the reopening of the discussion on working time with the short four-day week: whoever did it had results also in terms of productivity. At the same time, the right to ongoing training within the working hours must be ratified". Now it is evident that the new world so desired by the journalist, Marco Zatterin, as by the secretary of the largest Italian trade union closely resembles the precariousness - which can be declined in many ways - in which we live. The usual unassailable principles of innovation, productivity, growth, saving triad are re-proposed which, like the trinity, are elusive and inexplicable, and since pointing to profits, in order to carry out a profound redistribution of wealth, is "morally" reprehensible, the category is used of extra profits, something random and not precisely qualifyable. It doesn't go any better, as far as proposing a broad vision of the crucial passage in which we are immersed - climate and environmental change, pandemics, permanent wars, migrations - in the composite (but small) archipelago of grassroots trade unionism and its political referents. Looking at the platform of the unitary strike of last December 2nd, one seems to read a weary repetition of requests - including that of the reduction of working hours - which appear abstract, devoid of impact force, all the more so since the very proclamation of these strikes has become an empty, disembodied ritual: the body and imagination of the workers. Nothing to do with that radicalism that in not so distant times animated, probably as a forward flight, the discussion and ignited the imagination on working time and life time, on the refusal of an increasingly invasive consumer society. In these years of ours in which we are slowly and numbly sliding towards a predicted catastrophe that could put a large part if not all of humanity at risk - renewed atomic threats, profound climatic and environmental upheavals - it would be necessary to make the effort to go beyond the homework of a vindictiveness that finally does not differ much from the babel of chatter that circulates in the rooms of the institutions and of power. We do not want to deny the extreme difficulty of only proposing such a profound alternative, but we can no longer postpone at least the attempt to start a reflection, to undertake paths, to experiment with possibilities.

"A complicated but interesting game", as my friend Cosimo Scarinzi concluded in an article recently published in Umanità Nova, who also thinks about what we have tried to do in this article.

Angelo Barberi

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