“In these last years the world of work has been shattered. The degree of electoral abstention has further increased.
“Conditions have worsened for everyone. To build a shared outlook among workers is more difficult. But in our union and in CGIL a growing consensus is emerging that makes me think that the 25th [date of Rome national demonstration] will be the beginning of a real struggle.
“To go on to the streets is no longer enough . We need to pose the difficult question of how to stop a government… We need to go further. The debate in parliament is over — it is no longer the place where opposition to Renzi can change anything.”
So speaks Maurizio Landini, general secretary of the metalworkers union FIOM, a week ahead of the national demonstration organised by Italy’s largest union centre CGIL in protest against the reforms to labour laws that have been fundamental to the protection of conditions and job security since massive battles in the late 60s and early 70s.
The success of the coalition government has further emboldened Renzi to redefine for the worse living conditions for Italy’s workers in order to reinvigorate the historically moribund Italian capitalism. No wonder the chief of the country’s main industrial organisation acclaimed Renzi’s success and generosity in cutting taxes as “beyond our wildest dreams”.
It is such remarks that throw into relief the ostensibly militant remarks of Landini. While he laments both the state of the workers’ movement, the widespread suffering, despair and confusion, and the no longer effective one-day strikes and demos, he sidesteps many questions and issues. Why only now, after three successive governments dedicated to outdoing one another in inflicting devastation on workers, is there this minimal display of trade union response, and that from only a part of the union movement?
The union leaders know well they stand exposed as directly responsible for the deepening debacle. They desperately want to believe the protest will repeat the three million brought onto the streets in 2002 by the former CGIL leader, Sergio Cofferati. That action thwarted the Berlusconi government from doing what Renzi has so far achieved without any demonstrations, never mind a strike — something which for these leaders is still taboo!
What is certain is that it will take more than a march to stop the little Bonapartist Renzi, flush with success and accolades from Europe, America and elsewhere.
Any show of resistance, however cynically ritualistic for those who have initiated it, will see workers in large numbers on the march. But the bureaucrats must not be allowed to claim any credit. They should be drowned in a tsunami of protests, ridicule and demands for their dismissal.
The demand for an all-out general strike must be the battle cry from the ranks in Rome.
The fight to maintain the dynamic of resistance is the best and only way to rid the working class movement of its betrayers, rebuild a mass democratic movement that will be the bedrock of the fight not just for reform but for socialist revolution in Italy and elsewhere.