Italy Crippled by Strikes

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LeonardfromLeom...
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Nov 30 2004 15:42
Italy Crippled by Strikes

Against the economic policies of Tony's best mate in Europe, Silvio Berlusconi....

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4053809.stm

Mr. T

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pingtiao
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Nov 30 2004 18:21

According to the Italian delegate from our IFA federation:

Amusingly enough, the general strike was actually called by the Italian base unions COBAS and USI (to my knowledge-anyone?).The increasing power of these two rank-and-file organisations forced the official business unions to call their own general strike- set for 2 days before the base union strike- as away of seeming to be on the pulse.

I have acopy of an interesting article on anarchist influence and critique of these unions on my site here: http://www.pingtiao.org/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=2&mode=thread&order=0&thold=0

nestor.mcnab
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Dec 1 2004 09:55

The CUB (not cobas) union called a general strike for 3rd December which was joined by USI-AIT. It is unlikely that the three major unions were influenced by the decision. CUB is not very big. It is not accurate to talk about "the increasing power of these two rank-and-file organisations". Anyway, the Berlusconi government takes no notice whatsoever of the major unions, so the chances of him giving a toss about CUB and USI-AIT are minimal.

Anarchists should be careful not to lionize these grassroots unions (like CUb, Cobas etc) too much. While most of them were born as rank and file movements, many have fallen under the influence/direction of political parties (or certain factions of certain parties) and are no longer quite so independent. WHile a couple of years ago there seemed to be the promise of greter coordination in action and platforms between the various grassroots unions, there has recently been a noticeable decline in unity with certain unions desperately trying to "outdo" the others.

It should also be noted that "general strikes" are frequent occurances in Italy, but we should also understand what exactly that means. It is NOT general in the sense that all unions and all workers down tools. Here in Italy it simply means that a union calls a strike for all its workers, of whatever category. Strikes featuring one category of a union (teachers, say, or train workers) are commonplace. "General" strikes less so.

Labour legislation also means that strikes are controlled as regards their duration - yesterday's strike was a 4-hour strike (8 in a few regions). The custom of strikes beginning without knowing when they will end is unknown nowadays in Italy.

Ceannairc
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Dec 1 2004 11:26
Quote:
Government officials said they were baffled to see workers striking against a reform they say is designed to put more money in people's pockets.

ha ha!

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pingtiao
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Dec 1 2004 18:01

Cheers, Nestor, very informative post.

Can you point me towards any decent analysis of how the base unions are evolving? I don't speak italian unfortunately.

nestor.mcnab
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Dec 3 2004 15:00

Hi, unfortunately there's not an awful lot about the base unions in English, as far as I know. You'll get something on the FdCA website's English section (http://www.fdca.it/fdcaen - try the "labour issues" link or articles from the news-sheet which is in the "press" link) and something on the NEFAC website one of our coms wrote an article for the last but one issue of their paper, NEA. The NEFAC site is at http://www.nefac.net .

In solidarity,

nestor

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pingtiao
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Dec 3 2004 15:13

Cheers- the NEFAC article you talked about is the one I have mirrored on my site- linked above. I'll check out the link you just gave me.

Have a good weekend

butchersapron
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Joined: 25-07-05
Dec 3 2004 16:20

David Brown/echanges pamphlet - The Cobas: A new Rank and File Movement?

Gregor Gall - The Emergence of a Rank and File Movement: the Comitati di Base in the Italian Worker's Movement. Capital & Class 55 (1995)

The Cobas aren't a simple thing to get your head round because of their structure(s) - whilst they may be prepared to take militant action in innovative forms, it doesn't always follow that they're using it towards ends that we might see as desirable (for instance maintaining pay/skills differentials has lead to them being viewed by some as the union of the highly skilled) - and on top of that, there are so many different aproaches and positions that it's hard to really see the Cobas as one unified movement. They're a definite improvement on co-opted UK unions though.