On Tuesday 2 December, Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, won his six week long battle with the country's major trade unions. His Jobs Act became law.
This fundamental attack on workers' job security and labour rights went through the Senate without a promised rebellion from the “left” of the Democratic Party, thus averting a government defeat and new elections. To square their conscious, but save the goverment, the rebels trooped out of the Senate chamber just before the vote was taken.
This entirely predictable anti-climactic farce turns the spotlight back onto the leaders of the unions, CGIL/FIOM, protagonists of the several days of national protests and strikes against Renzi's reactionary measure.
Here the stakes have risen dramatically, and the idea that a further one-day general strike (on 12 December) will serious worry a more arrogant and confident Prime Minister seems remote. On 2 December, as the bill was being debated and voted on, and thousands of students and militants were protesting outside the Senate, there was no sight of the unions.
On the day before CGIL leader Susanna Camusso had announced that the campaign of protest would from now on be focused on persuading the European Commission to intervene.
Camusso's earlier militant rhetoric and the guff from her sidekick, metalworkers’ leader Maurizio Landinis, about occupying the facories have been long forgotten. The millions of workers and other protesters who will dutifullly stike and march on 12 Deceber can be almost certain of one thing — the goverment has won.
From the moment he took office, Renzi has been in the driving seat in his relationship with the union bosses. Having delivered a working class movement to the chopping block of an ever-worsening austerity the union leaders have failed to recognise the sinister significance of the turn of events of Renzi's declaration to make reform of the world of work the litmus test of rescuing and modernising the chronically declining Italian economy.
Instead of launching a campaign, stirring up a warning, and making preparations for a united mass resistance — a potential just hinted at in the days of action just undertaken! — they sat on their hands until the Bill reached its final stages in both of Italy's parliamentary houses. Their belated, pathetically vacuous rhetotric, merely underlined the desperation of a parasitic caste, as cowardly before its real masters as it is criminally irresposible before the people who pay their comfortable wages.
But the several days of acion point once more to the potential for creating a mass democratic collective of resistance. Despite the sellouts, the setbacks, across the country there are hundreds of disputes and struggles, stikes and occupations. The 35 women miners now in their 14th day of occupation at the bottom of their pit in Sardegna are just the most heroic example.
There is a burning need for the creation of a vanguard revolutionary socialist force able to lead towards the defeat of the class enemy in Italy.