Class Solidarity with the Arrested Workers in Piacenza

Early yesterday morning (19 July) several leading members of the rank and file, or grassroots, unions in Piacenza were put under house arrest by the police. We have reported on the struggles of the workers in the logistic hub of Piacenza (which services Amazon, IKEA, TNT and FedEx) several times previously (1).

Those arrested are Aldo Milani, the national coordinator of SI Cobas, Mohamed Arafat, Carlo Pallavacini and Bruno Scagnelli who led the pickets in Piacenza and are leading members of SI Cobas alongside members of the USB, Roberto Montanari, Abed Issa and Mahmoud Elmoursi. Other militants have had their right of residence withdrawn.

They are all charged with the very serious offences of conspiracy, grievous bodily harm, resisting state officials, sabotage and disruption of public services. The arrests follow recent changes in the law (which the main unions have not opposed) to make it easier for the big online retailers to avoid responsibility for the theft of wages by the job agencies they use to get workers on the cheap. This is part of the bosses' offensive everywhere, whether in attacks on the cost of living or to criminalise any attempt that they make to seriously fight wage cuts.

This is even worse in Ukraine where the war has provided the bosses the perfect chance to renege on agreements, sack workers and destroy workers’ rights.(2) It is what they are preparing for us everywhere and shows that the fight against imperialist war and the fight for our basic existence amount to the same thing. As the leaflet below from our Italian comrades concludes, our “war” is the anti-capitalist class war to put an end to the death and misery this system offers.

In Class Solidarity with the Arrested Comrades

For the alternative to a society of exploitation and death

There are many comrades of the grassroots unions who fight with courage and determination in their workplaces to whom, as victims of bourgeois repression, our solidarity as communists must be given with no "ifs" or "buts". This is obvious, as well as a duty,

It has been evident for years, however, that trade union practice as a method of struggle has failed despite the good intentions of those who take part in it. It is based on principles that need to be rejected, such as delegation (of the struggle to others) and, above all, wage bargaining in compliance with the needs of capital, both globally and in individual sectors. These methods lead to the logic of the support for the "lesser evil", something that trade union practice is inherently based on, so that, for example, they claim it is better to sacrifice 30 workers’ jobs rather than 100, passing this "lesser evil" off as a workers' victory.(3) Instead, the alternative is for workers to take back their destiny into their own hands, by organising from below.

Beyond the good intentions of its militant rank and file, the traditional union federations are rotten, since workers are only called to strike by those who sell them out with agreements signed behind their backs, and then pretend to be indignant at the outcome. All the anti-working class laws of governments of all shades have been passed, in no small part, thanks to the three union federations CGIL, CISL and UIL, in collusion with the bosses’ organisation, Confindustria.

Grassroots unions also fragment strikes by holding them on different days, depending on the acronym, and characterised by a radical verbalism as regards the prospects. While proposing objectives linked to the needs of the working class, such as working less for equal wages, they forget that those demands are impossible to obtain with normal trade union practice, especially in a historical phase of capitalist crisis, aggravated by the war waged by opposing imperialist gangs in Ukraine. War itself is a child of the crisis which for years has corroded the world capitalist system and, for this reason, torments the proletariat of the whole world. These include the lowering of wages, underemployment, precariousness, unemployment, sharp increase in bills and the cost of living: not just in Italy, but in every corner of the planet.

So far, the reaction of our class has not matched the ferocity of the bosses’ attack, but the fear that it could explode uncontrollably still worries the bourgeoisie: it is no coincidence that the traditional unions are calling for political stability and for a "loaf of bread", to be thrown to a proletariat that is more oppressed than ever, just to keep it happy. It is no coincidence that the judiciary, guardian of that "legality" recklessly praised by grassroots trade unionism, returns to rage against members of trade unions who ... are trade unionists, using traditional union methods of struggle. The point is that, in the crisis, which is now also a war, trade unionism "of the past", which could have brought about improvements with decisive trade union struggles, is less and less tolerated and tolerable by the bourgeoisie.

Trade unionism is therefore a practice we have to go beyond (out of date if in good faith, colluding with capital if in bad faith) for the good of the class struggle, which has nothing to do with trade unionism and should not be confused with it. Indeed, the working class now needs to defend itself from the attacks of the bourgeoisie, with open, determined mass struggles, against the increasingly close collaboration of all capitalist bodies. We need to create organisations of struggle from below, that are outside and against trade unionism, based on direct democracy, with representatives who can be recalled at any time (4).

These are first, necessary, steps to begin to respond to the war that the bourgeoisie has been waging against our class for years. They are necessary, but they are not enough.

Our class, starting with its most combative elements, must reclaim the consciousness that this social system based on exploitation, oppression, destruction of the environment and war must be overcome. That in order to overcome it, the proletariat needs to nourish within its struggles the indispensable tool for throwing capitalism into the dustbin of history: the world-wide revolutionary party.

No war but the class war!

Solidarity with the arrested comrades, free them all!

Internationalist Communist Party – Battaglia Comunista
(Italian section of the Internationalist Communist Tendency)
20 July 2022


(1) See and


(3) See how SI Cobas justified the defeat at Fedex:

(4) And just to underline the limits of trade unionism the two unions mainly involved, SI Cobas and USB have called separate strikes (for brief periods). SI Cobas does not even think it worthy to mention that USB workers were also arrested.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022