FIAT - The Anti-Union Protest in Turin

Saturday 16 May in the workers’ demonstrations for jobs and the future of FIAT workers the anger of the Pomigliano and Nola workers exploded. The latter after a hard struggle ignored by the media were put in a “marginal department” in an agreement signed by FIAT and the unions. (1) Today the situation has worsened and the whole Pomigliano plant is in danger of closure as a result of the crisis in the auto sector, as well as the huge restructuring operation of Marchionne et al. Today all FIAT workers, as well as those in FIAT subsidiaries, have no guarantee of a future job just like the uncertain future of the entire Italian and world working class.

To cries of “sell out” and “we should have workers’ power” a dense crowd of workers who were gathered round the Slai-Cobas (2) truck claimed that it was now the time for workers and not the bureaucrats to speak on the platform in front of a workers demonstration.

We, as workers of Battaglia Comunista took part in the protest given its deserved significance and weight. Beyond the lively bickering - the class struggle isn’t a three course meal - we welcomed the intervention of the Nola and Pomigliano workers who have rightly reminded us of workers’ internationalism in contrast to the war of the poor over jobs which serve as bait to trap Italian, German, and US workers in a fight against each other. In fact, given that capitalism is ever more international the response of the working class can be no less. To start with there must be no divisions between the workers of the different factories of FIAT in Italy. We point all workers - especially those in Mirafiori - down the road of solidarity with their colleagues in Nola and Pomigliano.

At the same time lets remind everyone that it was the leaders of the union confederations and their cousins in the car workers union (FIOM) who signed the contracts which worsened the conditions of the different categories of workers, who negotiated casual working contracts, who divided and wasted the energy of the workers in useless strikes announced weeks in advance. We must remember too they were the ones who agreed to the robbing of our pension funds and have done nothing to prevent the increase in workloads and speedups which are the real cause the deaths at work sacrificed on the altar of the capitalists’ profits. In short if we really want to defend ourselves from the attacks of bosses which are increasingly worse given the crisis we have to push aside the union bureaucracy which controls us on behalf of the bosses because they are the first obstacle which workers in struggle always find in front of them. Its not important if chasing the bureaucrats off the stage in front of Lingotto was organised or not - it was just what we needed!

Now however the workers from Turin to Pomigliano must go beyond all the unions both the already sold out big confederations as well as the rank and file unions which are just splinters of the main unions. The workers have to speak in the mass meetings. They must be the protagonists of their own struggles. They must solidarise beyond union regional and sectional differences in order to fight redundancies and lay offs. The most combative and less resigned workers must try to overcome the dead weight of the unions and above all, if real rank and file struggles do break out, must attempt to link all the different experiences.

If it is to difficult to go on strike because of low wages its al the more reason for workers and all waged employees to begin to pose the question of power. We don’t need bosses so production for real human needs would be carried out better without them. We don’t need unions as real struggles take place without them. The workers of INNSE in Milan who have managed the firm themselves for three months since it closed without the support of the union they belong to (FIOM) (3) and have continued to garrison it against the attacks of the bosses and the police have given us a small but heroic example of the determination we need.

However we need to go further in order to rid ourselves of this rotten social and economic system which has nothing to offer but hunger poverty and war both here and elsewhere. But to unite politically the impetus coming from different sectors of the working class towards this massive objective requires a revolutionary party. A party which has always settled accounts with Stalinism and so-called real socialism can constitute the indispensable political guide towards a society which is, at last, human.

Battaglia Comunista, May 2009

(1) “Marginal Department” means a sort of step towards being laid off. For the history of this struggle see Revolutionary Perspectives 46 and 47.

(2) Slai-Cobas is just one of so many so-called rank and file unions which emerged in Italy in the 1980s. Originally made up workers discontented with the existing unions they have also succumbed to the union game.

(3) The Italian Federation of Engineering Workers, to which most car workers belong.

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