Tens of thousands of Italian workers in the metalworkers Fiom-Cgil union and the USB union took part in a nationwide strike on Friday 28 January. The strike was in protest at the attempts by Fiat car company in Turin to implement draconian work conditions and reflected the fear that this could spread to other car manufacturers.
Fiat’s conditions will mean intensification of the workload, reduction of rest and mealtimes and a severe curtailment of rights to sickness benefits.
Fiom, which represents the largest component of metalworkers at Fiat, is now deprived of its right to represent its members on the plant’s shopfloor committees.
Other unions — those who shamefully bought into the bosses’ blackmail threat to pull out of Italy if the new conditions did not get passed in a recent plant-wide referendum — will continue to be represented.
However, the strike turnout across the country (in Bologna 30,000 struck and marched) demonsrated a fierce determination to fight on among carworkers.
Strikers were joined by thousands of students, researchers and teachers, all acutely aware that the struggle at Fiat is an integral part of everyone’s battle against the government’s attacks on education, health and welfare services.
At many of the mass meetings the demand for an all-out general strike drowned out much of the pussy-footing trade union bureaucrats.
Fiom leaders announced mass meetings of all its workers to discuss widening the action.
If the momentum is not to be lost the maximum unity of all the varied fronts of struggle against the goverment and bosses is needed: a worker led campaign of democratic and radical challenge.