Réseau Syndical International de Solidarité et de Luttes

mardi, 18 janvier 2022



| Italy | The General Strike of March 18

Accueil > Internacional > Europa > | Italy | The General Strike of March (...)

On Friday 18 March a general strike was called in Italy against the government’s external wars and the internal war it has been waging against the working class (see attached platform).

The strike was called by three non-official trade unions : CUB, SI Cobas and USI AIT ; a few other unions have joined it.

Demonstrations, originally planned only in Milan and Naples, also took place in Turin, Bologna, Florence, Prato, and have seen the enthusiastic participation of several thousand workers and youth.

The strike and the demonstrations have mirrored points of strength and weakness of the unions involved : the main success has mostly been in the logistics hubs and warehouses, as well as in public urban transportation, and in some railway departments ; also groups of teachers, hospital and public sector employees have joined the strike in many cities.

Their numbers could be counted by the thousands, not by the millions, though. A high percentage of participants were immigrant workers from all continents. This means that a majority of workers in Italy are still either unorganized or under the influence of the three main official trade unions CGIL, CISL and UIL, which are actually supporting the government.

The strike has been a courageous beginning of a radical opposition against government policies and the bosses, which have taken advantage of a deep crisis going on since 2008 to increase exploitation and lower wages. A beginning that gives hope after years of passivity and resignation, but there is still a long way to go in order to win over a majority or a strong minority of workers.

The Italian prime minister, Matteo Renzi, has attacked the strike saying that Italy is not going to war (while she keeps troops in Lebanon, Afghanistan, is sending new ones to Iraq and yearns for leading an international mission in Libya) and called on official trade unions and employers’ organizations to enforce their rules on workers’ representation and the right to strike, otherwise the government will do it.

One of the demands of the strike was freedom of organization and strike. The three unions have refused signing an agreement that would allow them to participate in the election of factory representation bodies, but would prevent them from taking any action against any collective agreement that is not in the workers’ interest.

So this general strike should be seen as the beginning of a long struggle, in which more rank-and-file trade unions should be involved, overcoming parochial divides, to wake up the Italian working class in opposition to bosses and governments, and breaking with the leadership of big official unions, who have always been the supporters of this rotten system.