The Italian General Strike

The leaflet which follows was distributed by our comrades of the Internationalist Communist Party (Battaglia Comunista) in demonstrations across Italy last Monday. It was the first time that all the rank and file unions had united to call such a strike but as the leaflet makes clear it was only for a day and they gave the bosses plenty of warning. According to one of them (the Union Sindacale di Base or USB) there were one million on strike with demonstrations in over 40 places across the country involving 100,000. This is impossible to verify or contradict but comrades in Milan reported no more than 2,000 on the demonstration there, whilst comrades in Florence said that there were 3,000, a number reinforced by workers from GKN (see: The GKN Struggle and the October "General Strike" In Italy) and Texprint (see Italy: Class Solidarity with the FedEx and Texprint Workers). In Rome the numbers were boosted by sacked workers for the bankrupt Alitalia airline as well as another GKN contingent which brought participants to about 5,000. In Trieste the demonstrators numbered 20,000, the higher numbers here due to the strong opposition to the Green Pass which allows workers who refuse the vaccine to be sacked. The bulk of the demonstrators were made up of former members of the unions and the reformist left in their various ideological components, without a significant involvement of broader sections of the working class. In short it looked more like the union rituals of the past than to any new form of resistance to the continuing attacks of capital. As the leaflet suggests any real mass strike will be one without time limits, and not just against this or that boss, but the system as a whole.

For a General Strike!

Yes, we are for a general strike, but a real one, an indefinite one, one with no time limit and without warning!

All the rank and file trade unions have called a general strike by all categories of work on 11 October.

Let's start by saying that the pandemic has added to the economic crisis, severely aggravating it. The end of the moratorium on sackings has produced thousands of lay-offs and intensified, for those who still have a paid job, inhuman rates of exploitation, causing daily deaths at work. In short, capitalist murder!

The boss class, via its armed wing, the State, devises every possible way to make profits out of us: it imposes closures, sackings, and forces us to work illegally, without job security for ridiculous wages. It also condemns us to wage labour until we are almost 70 – if you get there, of course ... and we have not even mentioned working conditions!

Every day capitalism, the social system under which we live, increasingly shows that it is the worst society for humanity (climate change, deforestation ...).

To date, the working class, when it opposes this bourgeois offensive (see GKN workers at Campi Bisenzio, Texprint in Prato, workers at Fedex, etc.), does so generously with occupations, pickets, demonstrations, etc: we know only too well, however, that as long as we remain isolated, with each one absorbed in the immediacy of their own dispute, sooner or later we will be crushed.

In disputes – like GKN – the workers in struggle do not ask for alms, but for solidarity, however, whilst this is necessary, it is not enough, because it remains within the framework of demand struggles, that is, within the capitalist-bourgeois framework.

The struggles to improve working conditions, even if correct in the short run, must always be accompanied, indissolubly, by a revolutionary political perspective: for the overthrow of capitalism in favour of a communist society!

For us internationalist communists, the first practical step is to unify the struggles and disputes on the basis of immediate needs (wages, employment, etc.), starting at least from uniting workers in the immediate area, in order to put on the table relations of strength with very different counterparts from the current ones.

It is not "enough" to unify the rank and file trade unions, to call a strike, with months' of notice (and then, probably, to go different ways after the strike), to draw up a list of demands that do not affect this company in the least, but, on the contrary, they reinforce the devastating illusion that within the capitalist system, moreover in deep crisis, major reforms are possible for the benefit of wage labour! The time for "worker" reformism has long since disappeared, for a long time the bourgeoisie has not only been unable to concede anything, but, on the contrary, is on the attack to take, that is, to worsen the living and working conditions of the proletariat in order to seek to raise inadequate rates of profit.

Let’s repeat and stress that the political criticism of the theory and practice of so-called alternative unions does not in any way concern the willingness to fight, the determination and sacrifices of those sectors of wage/dependent work that follow this or that union.

Yes, we are for the general strike, but the real one, the one to the bitter end, with no time limit and that appears without warning!

We need a different society, which produces to satisfy the living needs of the majority of humanity – the proletariat – and not to satisfy the economic profits of a small minority: the bourgeoisie! To arrive at this type of society, one cannot go through the existing bourgeois institutions, but organs of power that the working class will have to create for itself, linked to a coherent anti-capitalist programme and to the politically organised workers who are its standard bearers!

Battaglia Comunista
6 October 2021
Sunday, October 17, 2021