WORKERS OF THE WORLD
- the labor confederation -
URL: http://www.anarchy.no/iwwai.html Postal address: IWW/AI P.O.B. 4777 Sofienberg N - 0506 Oslo - Norway
DIRECT ACTION AND GENERAL STRIKE IN ITALY APRIL 16th 2002
Early 16.04.2002: We, labor-activists in the International Workers of the World, feel obligated to stand-up and offer our solidarity to our fellow-workers of Italy in this fight for workers' rights. Berlusconi's attack on labor is an attack upon our families and children, world wide. We must fight against these attacks. Relative slave contracts, Orwellian "1984" newspeak "At-will" employment, etc. are horrible. You must not allow it to become the legal standard in Italy! Please, strike and take to the streets on April 16th! The International Workers of the World support the general strike in Italy the 16th of April. Get on the road to anarchy in Italy!
At noon 16.04.2002: More than 12 million Italian workers are participating in a general strike across the country in protest at the controversial government plans to make it easier for employers to hire and fire workers, i.e. introduce relative slave contracts in the labor market. The strike was called by the country's three main union federations and anarchistic, and is expected to bring the country to a virtual standstill for the day. Berlusconi has vowed to continue with the reforms
It is the first general all-day work stoppage in Italy for 20 years. In Rome, three separate marches of all kinds of flag-waving workers converged on the central Piazza del Popolo. Many opposition politicians also joined the protest. Balloons and effigies of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi as Napoleon and the Pope have helped to create a carnival atmosphere. In Florence, officials say at least 300,000 people are taking part in the protest. "The country has come to a halt" proclaimed Sergio Cofferati, head of Italy's largest union CGIL, who addressed a rally in front of the Santa Croce church in Florence. The strike has shut down the city's public offices, factories and many shops.
Other main union leaders also addressed rallies in Milan and Bologna. Airports are expected to be especially hard hit, with air traffic controllers stopping work for eight hours, disrupting domestic and international connecting flights. Unions argue that workers' rights will be eroded. Public transport by road, rail, air and sea will stop all over the country, although a few long-distance trains are expected to run. Schools, banks, post offices and government offices will remain closed all day. There will be no live television broadcasts, with only skeleton news reports on the radio and no newspapers will be published. "This is a piece of theatre that will serve to remind the unions they have a voice and then hopefully the next day labour negotiations will resume," said James Walston, professor of Italian politics at the American University in Rome. Get on the road towards anarchy, negotiations and other actions included, a spokeswoman for the International Workers of the World said.
In major industrial cities, more than a million workers are expected to take part in union rallies and marches, denouncing the Berlusconi government's plans to reform Italy's inflexible labour laws. The laws make it difficult for medium and large-size companies ever to fire workers once they have been regularly hired. The unions argue that although the details of the industrial dispute may appear to be marginal, once the government begins to tamper with existing labour legislation, workers' rights will continue to be eroded. Employers argue that unless Italian industry, already considerably less competitive than most of its EU partners, becomes more flexible, it will continue its downward slide.
Mr Berlusconi has vowed to continue his fight to change the laws - however the unions say they do not rule out further action. The International Workers of the World and the Anarchist International in general fully support the general strike and other direct actions now and in the future against slave-contracts and the right populist unenlightened plutarchical Berlusconi regime, as the libertarian socialist and Nobel economical prize winner Ragnar Frisch probably would have called it, in general.
'Berlusconi plus Fini equal Mussolini' read the slogan on a fake coffin whose bearers complained that the (populist) centre-right government was killing democracy. Real democracy, i.e. anarchy. Traditional protest songs like Bella Ciao and ironic slogans against the government rang out through the streets of Rome. The eight-hour general strike was as mentioned called to resist proposed changes to a cornerstone of Italy's labour legislation. They focus on Article 18, a clause which has until now guaranteed workers the right to their jobs back if they are unfairly sacked. "I am here because as a geologist I have a precarious temporary job contract. I don't get the protection of Article 18, but I want workers' rights to be extended not reduced," said Girolamo, from Rome. In the afternoon, the crowds gradually dispersed as workers looked set to enjoy the remainder of their day off. Figures on turnout in the piazzas and absence in the workplace were conflicting. The trade unions claimed there had been a 90% stoppage in industry and in the civil service. However, at the Fiat factory in Turin management said less than 50% of employees had stayed home.
17.04.2002 the situation in Italy was summarized with that ca 13 000 000 participated in the SCIOPERO GENERALE , the general strike, and more than 2 000 000 took to the streets in different direct actions. The big unions as well as the smaller and more grassroots labor confederations to the left and right on the economical political map, and the anarchist movement participated in the actions. More direct actions , "sciopero" included, are probably needed to achieve the aim of protecting workers' rights and avoid relative slavecontracts in the Italian labor market. Let's work together in Italy and internationally to achieve more anarchy, i.e. real democracy, an economic-political system working in the favor of the workingclass people here and there, not the bureaucracy political/adminstrative and economically broadly defined in private and public sector.