MILLIONS OF workers struck across Italy on Friday of last week in the second general strike the country has seen in six months. They were protesting against attacks on workers by the right wing government of businessman and friend of Blair, Silvio Berlusconi. Berlusconi wants to make it easier for bosses to sack workers.
Around 13 million people took strike action, and more than two million protested in 120 towns and cities. They brought Italy to a virtual standstill. Some 60 percent of workers in the chemical factory of Brindisi joined the strike, even though union membership is only 30 percent. There were few trains. The Italian airline Alitalia had to cancel 275 flights. The Rome underground was also closed.
The biggest protest, along with Milan, took place in Turin where 250,000 marched. Stoppage Turin is home to the Fiat car makers who are threatening to lay off 8,100 workers and close two factories.
Fiat workers had already struck the previous week, and union leaders have planned a one-day stoppage before 10 November. The anti-capitalist movement joined the strike in many areas. In Rome the Social Forum picketed the Alenia weapons-making factory. In Florence, where the European Social Forum is taking place in November, 200,000 marched.
The strike was as successful as the last general strike in April. This is despite the strike only being called by the CGIL union federation. The previous strike had also involved the CISL and UIL union federations. Both have now said they will work with the government.
Nevertheless a wave of protest has faced the Berlusconi government in the last few months against its attacks on workers and democracy. The film director Nanni Moretti organised a demonstration of one million people last month.
European Social Forum
Florence, Italy, 6-9 November 2002
including Europe-wide anti-war demonstration, Saturday 9 November
The European Social Forum (ESF) will be the first Europe-wide gathering of the growing movements against neo-liberalism, racism and war. Tens of thousands of people will gather to discuss, debate and organise. There will also be a major united European demonstration against war.