The Cost of the Crisis So Far

From Prometeo 1, series VII, July 2009

Whether or not the danger has been averted, whether there really is a flicker of light at the end of the tunnel: in short, whether there are solid grounds for the stubbornly optimistic view of many capitalists that the crisis is almost over or whether this is simply a way of taking “people’s” minds off things, only time can tell. However, it is certainly convenient for many to see (or pretend to see) a lantern every time there’s a flicker of light, deluding themselves that the darkness is not so black as they’d once thought. Then again, wasn’t it that master of propaganda, the incomparable President of the Council (1), who happened to say one day that the crisis is only a psychological problem? According to him, if everyone pretended the crisis didn’t exist and kept on spending and squandering a dangerous bout of pneumonia would turn into a harmless cold. The superficiality of such notions provokes embarrassment when they are expressed in such a vulgar way but basically, once the typically theatrical figures of speech of the “premier” are removed, this is the accepted wisdom of a wide section of the serious bourgeoisie - reformists included, naturally - who see the re-launch of consumer spending and maintaining wage levels as the principal means for getting out of the difficult economic situation. For those who have the job of starting this re-launch it is not so easy - and the right and left bourgeoisie disagree about how to do it - given that the crisis has exploded with such devastating force precisely because for the past thirty years or more the international bourgeoisie has followed exactly the opposite course with a policy of progressively restricting the market, that is the masses’ capacity to consume. In other words, the systematic lowering of wages both in the capitalist metropoles and in the periphery. But this fierce attack on wages is not the outcome of a simple political choice based on the nastiness of the bourgeoisie who, at a certain point, have chosen to ransack the pockets of the proletariat almost as if they had grown tired of the so-called “Fordist compromise” and its relatively secure and decent wages. On the contrary, the roots of the market turbulence are to be found where the commodities which finish up on the market originate - in the sphere of production with its antagonistic social relations between capital and labour power. Capital only survives and develops at the expense of labour power. So long as things are going well it is capable of conceding the famous crumbs to the wage slaves (in fact, this is to their direct advantage); but when, as a result of this antagonism, things start to go badly - and sooner or later they must go badly - the only option is to attack those who are dependent on wages and the weakest strata in society to try and pump oxygen into a rate of profit (the heart of the system) which is having increased difficulty breathing. Thus, just as imperialism is not one policy amongst many for this or that bourgeoisie, a defect of capitalism, but is capitalism’s very mode of being in our epoch, in the same way the intensification of exploitation is such a vital necessity that capital cannot permit itself to ignore it if it wants to at least try to hold up the degenerative course of its illness.

Redundancies, temporary contracts and permanent job insecurity, reduced purchasing power of wages, these are the indispensable weapons paraded by the capitalists over the last thirty or more years which, together with the “magical” power of money (2), that is financial speculation carried to paroxysm, was supposed to revitalise the world economy.

Thus, if the tendency for the average rate of profit to fall has been slowed down or temporarily neutralised by such counter-tendencies, it has not been annulled.

These are the underlying reasons for the deteriorating conditions amongst which the proletariat - and even part of the petty bourgeoisie - is obliged to live, in Italy and throughout the world.

High Exploitation, Low Wages

Wages as share of GDP in the European Union 1960-2008
Wages as share of GDP in the European Union 1960-2008

The figures published by the OECD in mid-May on Italy’s low wage rates and which provoked the usual ephemeral clamour in the media, were in reality a timely confirmation of research by various institutes and economists of various ideological persuasions, most of whom cannot be suspected of harbouring particular proletarian sympathies. For example, the Bank of Italy, in a report at the end of April, revealed that from 1993 to 2008:

“the percentage of poor people (people with an income of less that 60 per cent of the average) belonging to these two categories [those dependent on a wage and self-employed, ed.] has jumped from 27 to 31 per cent amongst workers and to 8 per cent amongst the self-employed.” (3)

Is it an accident that in July 1993 the general agreement on labour contracts was signed which accelerated and intensified the socalled settlement? Obviously not, as some left members of CGIL (4) more or less openly admit, without however drawing the obvious conclusions.

This same union has tried to quantify the loss of purchasing power for wages/salaries. Payments have all gone up: but only for the murky benefit of taxation trickery.

“In the last 15 years every worker has given the taxman an average of €6,738: for the State that means it has benefited by 112 billion euros, one of the major supply of funds that has prevented the return of fiscal drag [Government spending overrunning tax receipts, trans.].” (5)

But independently of this increase in tax revenue which all governments of whatever stripe have carried out, wages themselves have fallen by an average of €1,900 between 2002 and 2007, a figure which is no laughing matter, especially when taking account of the fact that more than 14 million workers must live on less than €1,300 per month and around 7.3 million on less than €1,000. (6) In order not to leave any doubt about the huge extent of the robbery being carried out at the expense of the proletariat, with the complicity - as Minister Sacconi loves to say - of the unions, it’s worth reporting what one of the most lucid minds amongst Italian reformist intellectuals has written, someone who nowadays appears almost an extremist, such is the miserable state of bourgeois reformist thinking:

“...the share of wages in GDP: in Italy between 1979 and 2007 that share had fallen by almost 13 per cent. At present it constitutes only 55% of GDP, even if wage earners in regular work and therefore included in the State’s figures have grown in the meantime by several million.” (7)

In essence, not only has the slice of the cake allotted to the proletariat (which made the whole cake) been reduced, but there has been a big increase in the number of mouths whose teeth are biting into that slice.

On the other hand, as we have mentioned, this is a global phenomenon. It could not be otherwise, given that capitalism “reigns” over the whole planet.

Perhaps the only difference is to be found in the sharpness of the proletariat’s diminishing share which in Italy is particularly acute. An examination of the data on wages’ share of GDP reveals the same picture everywhere, the only difference being the amount.

Between 1982 and 2005 wages’ share fell from 47.6% to 30.2%, in the G7 from 67.5% to 61.5%, in China, that paradise of globalised capitalism, from 53.6% to 41.4%. (8)

These figures, already eloquent enough in themselves, probably depict - and certainly do for the USA - a better picture than reality. In the US, for example, those who Marx called the “officials of capital” - that is to say the administrators, directors, managers, the people who, whatever their role in the firm, get an “income” sometimes hundreds of times higher than the wages of a general labourer. It’s even better for workers in the ex-Soviet bloc countries - another Eden where freedom has been regained - where, taking account of inflation and increased productivity,

“in recent years, the decline of wages is higher ... in relation to Western countries.” (9)

Once again, then, capitalism has not forgotten its own interests and by devaluing labour power, that is lowering wages, it has one of the most powerful means - perhaps the most powerful - to offset the tendential fall in the average rate of profit. Without going into details, it is illuminating to compare the measures employed by capital in the 1920s and the strategies adopted today. In Germany in 1924, after the defeat of the last - badly prepared - revolutionary onslaught, working hours were extended to 10 hours per day and wages were reduced. In the United States during the “Roaring Twenties”, the frenetic years of expansion in consumption based on debt and financial speculation, the average wage clearly fell or else, in the “best” case, remained unchanged.

Obviously this means that the rate of surplus value went up although, given how things turned out, this was not enough to prevent the crisis of 1929. (10)

Today one of the most bourgeois of economists, perhaps for effect, condescends to use Marxist terms and talks about an increase in the rate of surplus value and the rate of profit in Italy between 1993 and 2003, but the net outcome is what we see today in front of our eyes. (11)

This is because, no matter how large the mass of surplus value that is extorted by every means possible from the working class (12), this must always be related to the whole of investment capital and in the end cannot be enough to adequately remunerate capital, thus beginning the downward phase of the cycle and all the measures designed to lift the rate of exploitation, increase that notorious competitiveness of firms, until in the end they rebound against the system in general. “Old Karl” noted ironically that every capitalist aims to lower the wages of his own workers while he would like to see the wages of others increase in order to sell at a lower price - at a competitive price! - on a strong and expanding market. And today the capitalists all over the world are doing and hoping for exactly the same things. However, once the vicious circle of the crisis started it wasn’t so much that “private vices” have become “public virtues” but rather they are generalised “vices”, i.e. part of the sharpening of the crisis itself.

For example, even if temporary jobs and short-term employment contracts - the scourge of contemporary capitalism, which affect between 13 and 33% of the European labour force (but amongst younger workers the percentage is much higher) - are a kind of miraculous potion for the bosses, in the sense that they have a blackmailable workforce at their disposal, ready to use at the “right” moment and at the “right” price; in the long run they contribute to the shrinking of the “market”, given that the intermittent and generally lower wages reduce the so-called capacity to consume of a solid portion of citizens. In Germany, which has an economy oriented towards exports:

“the number of poor workers - where “poor” signifies getting two thirds or less of the average wage - has exceeded 22% of the total workforce. A recent source says that there are about 5 million “minijobs” and around 2 million workers get €800 or less per month.” (13)

Overall, in Europe there are more than thirty million people in precarious jobs; 5 million of them in Great Britain and 6 million in Spain. (14)

Yet again, though, it is the United States which has led the way for the whole world to follow. The country of Uncle Sam takes first prize for the unstoppable growth of the ‘working poor’, of workers tired out by the end of the month (when they make it), up to their neck in debt even to the point of losing their house; all well before the subprime bubble that was inflated with the money - or rather the non-money - of the poor burst in the face of the world economy. In December 2008 the Washington Post signalled that in the world’s number one imperialist power, “63% of the population are now experiencing a drop in income”. (15)

In the same period an ILO report (International Labour Organisation, agency of the UN) drew a picture of the outlook for the future which has so far been confirmed. According to the ILO, worldwide unemployment would grow in 2009, from a minimum of 18 million people up to, in the worst hypothesis, a maximum of 51 million people and the advanced countries would not be the last to be affected.

In addition to these figures a further 200 million could be added to include workers who would fall into poverty - particularly in the capitalist periphery - above all because they would fall into the grey area of the ‘informal’ or black economy which, moreover, in the space of a decade would swell to include two thirds of the labour force, that is to say 1.8 billion people. (16)

Increasingly Insecure Jobs

In case these predictions are not borne out in reality, let’s keep with the hard facts, where they are available. These confirm that in the USA from the end of 2008 the number of people without a job has increased at an average rate of 600,000 per month. Thus, in one year the official unemployment rate increased by more than three percentage points which by April meant 8.5% of the labour force or about 13 million people. (By May it was beyond 9%.) However if it’s also taken into account that, in order to avoid complete closure, many firms have reduced the working week to around 33 hours (obviously with a cut in wages) and that nine million workers are now obliged to work part-time (the majority of them women); and then if the number of those who have supposedly stopped looking for work and who don’t appear in the figures are taken into account, then the real level of unemployment rises to 15.6%. (17)

However, in Europe things are not much better. Even though, as we said, the bourgeois politicians are obstinately radiating flawless optimism the EU’s statisticians and economists are continually revising the figures for GDP and unemployment downwards. Behind the smiles and the reassuring tone there is the fear that the dams which protect “social cohesion” will be suddenly broken by a spontaneous wave of all-out struggle by the proletarian class. Poverty, or rather reduction of workers’ income is, as we have seen, a generalised fact whilst social security or welfare benefits, official or otherwise - which up until now have curbed the effects of the multi-decennial (that is, structural) crisis could well be insufficient if things should happen like this. In Spain - ex-miracle economy country - unemployment is already over 17% and, according to Eurostat, is in danger of reaching 20 or more per cent in 2010. In a year unemployment throughout Europe has risen to 8.9%. This means 14,158 million unemployed (2.8 million more than in March 2008) in the euro zone and 20,150 million for the EU as a whole. (18)

Thus the ECB (European Central Bank) warns that even if the upturn predicted by the crystal ball gazers (itself included) materialises, unemployment will continue to rise, up to 10.5%. (19)

And, what’s happening in the Bel Paese? Even though Italy is fortunate in having a President of the Council with the miraculous powers of a medieval king, things are following the same general tendency. Official unemployment, which stood at 6.2% in 2007, has now increased by a further 1.8%.

According to official figures, the building sector has lost 250,000 jobs but the existence of the black economy, which is prevalent in this sector, makes an exact calculation impossible. The play within the play is that the most affected, obviously, are immigrant workers who in some areas, such as Lombardy, comprise around half the workforce in building. For immigrant workers as a whole and obviously not only building workers, the decline in available jobs means the loss of residency status and the grim prospect of being pushed into living and working clandestinely. The point is that many immigrants have been in Italy for years - forming the backbone of the labour force in many factories - and have families and children who go to school here.

Aside from the loss of wages, which is no small thing, it is not difficult to imagine the huge problems that losing the legal right to remain would bring.

However, if the building sector is weeping, metal engineering is far from laughing. In one year alone output in this sector fell by 30%. By March the CIG (Cassa Integrazione or pool of laid-off workers getting a reduced holding salary) had increased by 1,014% and in April by 1,400%. At the same time employment in the biggest firms fell by 1.6% and the number of metal workers overall fell by 144,000. Over the next few months 41% of all metal engineering works predict they will cut personnel. (20)

A glimpse at the local situation in the province of Reggio Emilia - one of the most industrialised in Italy - bears this out. In February 9,000 workers were laid off in the cassa integrazione scheme. By the end of April there were 19,000 in the ordinary scheme and 2,000 in the extraordinary (21) and the industrial output figures showed a drop of 30 to 70 per cent. The same socio-economic earthquake has hit many industrial sectors which until recently were hailed as the ultimate in competitiveness and Italian creativity. For example, the “bedding sector” in Puglia has experienced a swathe of shutdowns and job losses or lay-offs in the cassa integrazione. The latter, however, has given the bosses the opportunity to play the same old trick as the industrial capitalists. Briefly, they, or rather the workers who have been laid off in the CIG, are re-employed by the same bosses who pay them a wage of between €2-2.5 an hour; between this lowest of wages and the CIG payment a more or less “normal” salary is put together while the bosses make a great saving on their wages’ bill and shove a large part of the cost of variable capital onto the wider social collectivity. (22)

Although the CIG is undoubtedly a significant social insurance scheme - even if it doesn’t pay out the 80% of salary that the bosses and politicians claim but more like 60-65% (which means a breadline income) - in any case it includes no more than 50% of wage workers at any one time (around 7.5 million people; all the others, not to mention casual and temporary workers, are excluded from this scheme). Now, it’s true that the government and especially the regions have designed some more tin pot schemes for the unemployed and unprotected workers but, being optimistic, this still spells widespread poverty, if only because they expressly do not cover wide areas of insecure jobs and unemployment (see, for example, the agreement drawn up between the region of Lombardy-the bosses-unions).

Returning to the field of social security protection. The CGIL predicts that in 2009 there will be a million more unemployed, while the more optimistic Confindustria (the bosses’ organisation) says 600,000.

The fact is that, so far, according to the CGIL, 400,000 temporary workers have not had their contract renewed and on top of this can be added a further 200,000 public employees who are set to lose their job in the next two years as a result of the targets set by Minister Brunetta, whose anti-statist fervour is reminiscent of an old cartoon figure, a drunken superhero for the rich who robs the poor in order to further enrich his protected few.

For the moment we can pause here to make an overview of the devastating effects of the crisis on the proletariat, whilst at the same time not forgetting that many pensioners are also paying a high price. In a document prepared for the G20 in London, the ETUC (European Trades Union Confederation) observed,

“The pension funds within the OECD lost 3,300 billion dollars in the value of their shares, that is 20% in real terms in 2008, due to falling values in the stock markets, of hedge funds and structured financial products. The immediate impact of the crisis will be felt above all by those nearest pensionable age and who have defined pension contributions which are entirely dependent on the performance of the funds.”

It takes the bloated face of a union bureaucrat to say these things without blushing, seeing that it was the unions who signed every one of the agreements designed to weaken and dismantle the old pension system (i.e. the robbery of final salary pension schemes), pushing and eventually forcing workers to subscribe to private pension funds, managed, at least in part, by the unions themselves. If we didn’t know these types we would be disconcerted as we remembered the arrogance and derision met out to anyone who criticised their activities at the union meetings which they’d called to lure in the workers with their fantasy about the advantages of pension reform. Now what are they going to propose in the face of this massive disaster? The usual idiocies.

Empty calls for greater financial control, for more equal wealth distribution, for a sense of moral responsibility by institutions. In short, they make out that the beast of the market can be tamed when, however, it is not tameable. The market is a monster and only obeys the demands of profit, and in fact, of the highest possible profit: that is its nature. All the rest doesn’t matter in the slightest. It is an illusion.

Productivity, Profit and The (currently latent) Struggle of the Working Class

Despite all the possible countermeasures which have been taken over the last thirty years to increase the amount of surplus value extorted and provide an adequate amount for the valorisation of capital; amongst them and not least, the lengthening of the working day, the results for the (real) process of accumulation have been far from brilliant.

Everywhere the bosses insist and persist with this route because they know no other. “Increase productivity”, yells Brunetta. “Increase productivity”, says Federica Guidi, president of the young industrialists:

“We must increase productivity ... work more hours, 41, 42, 43 and review the number of holidays: four or five weeks a year are too much, as are the number of sick days.” (23)

However, it is already the case that at least half of wage earners (workers and employees with “permanent” jobs and legally registered) work more than forty hours a week (24) and this phenomenon is certainly not peculiar to Italy. Granted, the “productivity problem” in Italy is due - as economists of various persuasions maintain - to the fragmented productive apparatus, i.e. the abnormal presence of small enterprises whose only hope of Capitalist Crisis maintaining competitiveness is by pushing down the cost of labour or rather turning the screws on the working class. On the other hand, industrial restructuring, the introduction of new, higher “performing” machinery, leads in general to the expulsion of labour power and, thus, for the proletariat it’s a situation of falling from the frying pan into the fire. In the long term this is also the case for capitalism itself because it narrows the basis for valorisation. Certainly, during the upward part of the accumulation cycle, the comparative reduction in labour power (in relation to the capital invested) is accompanied by real growth but, at the moment, there is no sign of this on the horizon. Here then is the source of the “doggedness” of capital towards its workers, who must be continually more flexible: about wages, hours, shifts, their entire life.

For the proletariat it means a leap backwards fifty, hundred or so years, but with a difference: today the proletariat is atomised, with no hope of a better future, subdued by the historical delusion of the collapse of “real socialism”, intoxicated by bourgeois ideology, by a consumerism (in the West) which has led it to ape the lifestyle of the petty bourgeoisie. These disagreeable facts are responsible not only for the loss of class consciousness, but also for the decline in simple class identity, which has undermined workers’ will and capacity to struggle, something for which we also have to thank the political operations of the unions and parties “of the left”. Last, but not least, it is thanks also to the absence of a revolutionary political reference point. Up to now the class response to the capitalist offensive has - with some exceptions - come nowhere near the level of the attacks.

Nevertheless, it is true that things can suddenly be turned round for in the past this has been the pattern of a class revival which, if and when it happens, as we truly want to see, then it certain ly will be neither painless nor straightforward. We will take up this argument again later...

Celso Beltrami

Conditions in the US

... have deteriorated further since this article was written.

“The number of working US citizens turning to free government food stamps (worth $80 a month) has surged [to 35 millions or 11.6% of the population] ... whilst this increase is often attributed to unemployment - which yesterday hit 9.7% - the FT has learnt that some 40% of the families now on food stamps have “earned income”, up from 25%.”

This only confirms what this article argues - that, as the FT puts it “wages and benefits have decelerated”.

Quotations and figures from the Financial Times September 5/6 2009

British Figures Confirm that Everywhere Workers Are Paying the Price for the Capitalist Crisis

In August 2009 official UK unemployment stood at 2.49 million. 1 in 6 households are now without a wage earner.

1 in 5 18-24 year olds; 400,000 (or 5%) of 25-34 year olds live with their parents and a similar proportion of 35-45 year olds have moved back with parents. [ICM Research, September 2008]

25% of manufacturers have cut working hours and many more are considering following suit, according to research from the EEF, the industry body for engineering and manufacturing employers. [The Guardian, 13 March 2009]

1 in 3 public sector organisations are planning redundancies with at least 10 per cent of the workforce set to lose their jobs. Redundancies have already begun in nearly 50% of district councils. [The Financial Times, 12 August 2009]

10% of firms are certain to cut jobs and 40% are considering lay offs. [British Chamber of Commerce, August 2009]

Over 20% of people in employment (5.79 million) work more than 45 hours a week. Office of National Statistics 2009 87% of defined benefit (mainly final salary) pension schemes were now closed to new members. 18% also no longer take contributions from existing members. [The Financial Times, 31 August 2009]

(1) The official title of Italy's head of government is Presidente del Consiglio dei Ministri, literally “President of the Council of Ministers”, usually referred to in English as the “Prime Minister”. In other words, Silvio Berlusconi, well known outside Italy for his media empire, constant ability to escape prosecution for corruption, famous advice to the survivors of the L’Aquila earthquake to pretend they were camping and seedy philandering with prostitutes and minors.

(2) Hjalmar Schacht, Hitler’s creative minister in charge of the economy, wrote an apposite book entitled, “Money Magician” in order to strengthen the illusion of the bourgeoisie that money in itself can magically create more money, more wealth, by leapfrogging over the process of production of commodities and therefore of surplus value.

Quoted by Ester Fano in “The capitalist countries from the world war to the crisis of '29” in AA.VV. The Crisis of Capitalism in the 1920s, De Donato, 1978, p.99.

(3) Il Manifesto, 22-04-2009.

(4) Italian General Confederation of Labour (CGIL) with a membership of over 5.5 million.

(5) Agostino Megale, director of the IRES, the research centre of CGIL, reported in Il Manifesto 28-03-2009.

(6) Paolo Ciofi, Voyage Around Working Italy, [Viaggio nell’Italia del lavoro] CalicEditore, 2008 p.33.

(7) Luciano Gallino, La Repubblica, 09-01-2009.

(8) Michel Husson, “The Tendency for the Rate of Exploitation to Increase” [“La hausse tendencielle du taux d’exploitation”] in Un pur capitalisme, Editions Page Deux, 2008.

(9) Devi Sacchetto, “Mobility of the Labour Force and Capital” [“Mobilita della forza lavoro e del capitale”] in AA.VV. La Lunga Accumulazione Originaria, Edizioni Ombre Corte, 2009 p.148.

(10) Leon Sartre The Marxist Theory of Periodic Crises [Theorie marxiste des crises periodiques] Ed. Marcel Riviere et al ,1937, pp 38-40. See also “Considerations on the Composition and Recomposition of the Class with Globalisation” [“Considerazioni sulla composizione e ricomposizione di classe nella mondializzazione del capitale”] in Prometeo #6, 2002.

(11) Geminello Alvi, A Republic Based on Revenue [Una repubblica fondata sulle rendite], 2006 p.60.

(12) Amongst these means are the non-compliance with the most elementary safety standards at work, so much so that in Italy between 2003 and 2006 there were more workers killed than American soldiers in Iraq: 5,252 as against 2,978.

Even though this phenomenon particularly distinguishes the bloody character of Italian bosses (see also the recent Safety report [Testo Unico sulla Sicurezza], it is part of a growing tendency world wide. According to the ILO there were 2,200,000 deaths at work in 2004, 200,000 more than in the previous year. Furthermore, for every fatal “accident” there were four deaths as a result of workplace diseases and, to finish this list of crimes by the bourgeoisie and its lackeys, in the same year there were 270,000,000 nonfatal “accident” victims. Figures reported in P. Ciofi op.cit. pp 104 and 109.

(13) Luciano Gallino, “Decline of the Union, Between Crisis of Representation and an Uncertain Future” [“Declino del sindacato tra crisis di rappresentanza e sfide future”] in Nuvole, #34, October 2008.

(14) La Repubblica, 09-02-2009.

(15) Il Manifesto, 21-12-2008.

(16) Figures from the OECD, reported by Il Manifesto of 08-04-2009. According to the ILO workers in the black or “informal” economy could soon make up 53% of the entire labour force and the working poor , 1.4 billion; in China alone it appears that the number of unemployed forced to return to the countryside from where they came is at least 20 million.

(17) 4 million workers were forced to go over to part time working after the subprime bubble burst in 2007. The total number of unemployed and underemployed would appear to be about 23.1 million people. See Charles-Andre Udry, “Emplois: la chute la plus rude depuis les annee 1930-31” [Jobs: the sharpest fall since 1930-31] in visited 16 March 2009; see also Il Manifesto 4.4.09. In May the official unemployment rate was already over 9%.

(18) Amongst the unofficial welfare supports (i.e. which are not part of the cassa integrazione [Italy’s official system of putting workers into a holding pool for redundancy payments, trans.] or unemployment benefits) first place is without doubt the family which nowadays supports thousands of “big children”, that is youths who cannot leave the family home because their income is either too low or they do not have an income. In any case the mid-May report by the governor of the Bank of Italy, Draghi, (attacked by the ineffable premier) indicated that 2.6 million workers were totally, or almost totally, without any social welfare benefits. Of these at least 1.6 million are in danger of becoming unemployed or, which is the same thing, of not having their contract renewed. For a more detailed picture, see the article by F. Piccioni in Il Manifesto of 06-06-2009.

(19) Il Manifesto, 01-05-2009. But even these figures, gathered during the editing of this footnote, have been surpassed with the revelation by Eurostat at the beginning of June that unemployment is now 9.2% of the workforce. Within this bleak framework Spain and Greece are distinguished by a growing countertendency, that is a very small increase in employment. Whether this is due principally to the various government programmes or to a real change in direction for the economy is yet to be seen, but given the present state of things the first hypothesis is the most likely.

(20) visited 18-05-2009; this page said that the number of metal workers in cassa integrazione was between 450,000 and 500,000, i.e. 25-30% of the whole group.

(21) L’informazione, 01-05-2009.

(22) Riccardo Jacona (ed.), Presa diretta, Raitre, 15-02-2009

(23) La Repubblica, 09-02-2009.

(24) Figures from CGIA de Mestre, reported by Il Manifesto, 04-01-2009.

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