A Worker Informs Us of a Spontaneous Strike at FIAT

The following letter was received by our comrades in Italy and printed in Battaglia Comunista 10. It deals with a small but significant episode of class struggle in which the workers for once broke out of the union cage, and were thus able to put the defence of their own interests first. Their anger had built up in the long period in which they had to put up with vicious attacks on their wages and working conditions, with ever-increasing speed ups. It exploded in an spontaneous fashion creating, if only for a few hours, panic amongst union shop stewards and the company management. But as the letter rightly indicates it is not enough to struggle to defend immediate economic interests, it is also necessary to develop that class consciousness which is capable of transforming a single episode of struggle into a political fight which puts in question the entire capitalist system.


On the 5th September during the afternoon shift there was a spontaneous strike in FIAT by the workers of la Ceva (the former Tnt) to demand the right of the majority of the workers to the fourth wage grade. The recognition of such a level, in other words, a wage rise, was promised by the management to all the workers whilst in reality it was given only to the arse-lickers and friends of the foremen. Losing patience with this situation we got organised and picketed the workshop, going behind the backs of FIOM (1), the only union that currently exists in the factory. Production stopped within a few minutes, which soon upset and panicked our foremen, who immediately warned the management, so that within a few minutes the Managing Director arrived with the Head of Personnel, together with the shop stewards of the FIOM in order to stop the situation getting further out of hand. The Head of Personnel had scarcely reached the workplace than he asked to speak to a delegation of the workers, an unusual event which has not happened in FIAT for at least twenty years. Thanks to opening direct talks with the striking workers’ delegation the Head of Personnel succeeded in breaking the deadlock and getting work started again. Myself and three other workers went up to the management to demonstrate our anger about what had happened in the workshop

Four foremen and the same number of FIOM shop stewards were there and they had to take the insults from the Head of Personnel for letting the situation get out of hand: this confirmed that he was very worried that the workers were so angry. We however had brought the question out into the open supporting the right of all the workers to Level 4 wages (obviously unfortunately at staggered intervals) and not just for the usual creeps and pals of the foremen!! Then I gave an account of the heavy workload and the speed of the belts saying that if they followed health and safety regulations the production line should be closed, but here the Head of Personnel told me to work more slowly and halt the line when necessary (obviously he was taking the piss). In that hour and half with the bosses in the management we were practically the only ones who spoke whilst our union shop stewards just reiterated that there was an agreement about Level 4 wages signed with the management, but we said that it had to be given to the oldest first and then bit by bit to the other workers. Other questions came out after this such as the fact that the temporary redundancy payments (cassa integrazione) always went to the same crawlers, and that some of the foremen had an arrogant attitude towards the workers. The Managing Director promised that he would intervene himself on the question of the foremen and the workers if a similar situation arose again, promising that the foremen should not bully or verbally abuse the workers. Finally, with the usual paternalism of the kind father of a family, he told us that if there was something wrong we should not go on strike, but come and tell him first. In short our brief spontaneous strike had created a crisis for both unions and management. Unfortunately the class consciousness and the will amongst the workers is not sufficient to create a united group which can immediately confront the complaints and the most urgent questions in the workshop.

(1) The Italian Federation of Engineering Workers.

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