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The bourgeois repression is unleashed on rank-and-file union militants with the most absurd accusations as part of the criminalization of workers’ struggles that are beyond the control of class collaborationist trade unionism.
Today they target the struggle of the logistics workers, just as they used to target the struggle of the unemployed, and tomorrow they will repress any other movement of struggle.
Last Friday, July 22 at dawn, four unionists from Si Cobas and two from the USB were arrested and placed under house arrest on charges of committing violence against private entities, resisting a public official, sabotage and obstructing public service during the 2014-2021 logistics strikes.
According to the Public Prosecutor's Office in Piacenza, «these strikes were conducted with expedient motives and with “extortion” intentions in order to achieve better conditions for workers than those provided for in the national contract» (National News Agency, ANSA).
According to the Preliminary Inquiry Judge (GIP), it was found that «in many situations, trade union agitation and the exercise of the right to strike served only partly to defend the rights of workers, but above all to consolidate a position of power, including to obtain financial gain.» And further: «Every crime committed, every blockade of persons and goods, every obstruction of a public service or boycott, every physical conflict with the police was planned, sought and wanted by the suspects, who always acted in the belief that by exercising the right to strike they could acquire a privileged position, almost a kind of immunity.»
«In the pursuit of this criminal plan», the GIP continues, «the workers were merely a means, used as pawns who were moved from one place to another to give greater effect to each initiative (according to bank transfers, Si Cobas reportedly spent more than €200,000 in one year on bus rentals).»
In order to achieve their objectives, the suspects allegedly set up criminal groups capable of organising and combining workers, but also entities from time to time completely unrelated to the labour environment, in order to commit numerous crimes such as those under investigation, «legitimising» them through the trade union struggle and «cloaking them in the rhetoric of the struggle of the weakest against the strongest».
Continuing the vilification and slander, the prosecution claims that «in several cases, it has been documented that union demands have constituted a mere pretext behind which to hide attacks deliberately directed against a rival trade union in order to recruit members. In all cases, it was found that neither trade union ever fought solely to achieve improvements in the conditions of all workers, but rather acted as a pressure group - a veritable lobby - to secure better conditions for its adherents, particularly in the implementation of contract changes. In this respect, the findings of the wiretaps, corroborated by documentary evidence, highlighted how the changes negotiated with the employer concerning contractual relations enabled the trade union to obtain the payment of sums intended for workers, but which were partly withdrawn through mechanisms such as the “resistance fund”».
It is clear that this latest attack on grassroots organisations not associated with class collaborationist trade unionism is a further step in the criminalisation of the struggles and their class content that the movement in the logistics sector has so far expressed and is expressing. Defining what would be normal bargaining as “extortion” well explains the very nature of the argument of the Emilia-Romagna regional prosecutor’s office, which places the conflict in a well-defined framework of preventing the resumption of class struggle, in which repression and criminalisation play a compensatory role given the weakening of consent to the collaborationist policies of the CGIL, CISL and UIL.
The arrest of the Si Cobas and USB trade unionists is a warning to the entire proletariat. Those who fight outside the institutionally endorsed sphere are considered criminals. The multinationals responsible for the deaths of two Si Cobas union members hit and killed by a car during a demonstration a few years ago and those responsible for the deaths of two students working in the school-to-work programme are not even prosecuted. The class hatred of the bourgeoisie is intensifying, knowing that as the contradictions sharpen the social conflict will get wider, so it is already acting in advance.
However, the reaction of the Cobas unions did not wait long and on Saturday 23 July a massive nationwide united demonstration of the grassroots trade union movement took place in Piacenza. It was joined by numerous delegations from all over Italy, such as the student movement Movimento NoTav, the Movimento di lotta/Disoccupati «7 Novembre» from Naples and the Collettivo di fabbrica/Lavoratori Gkn Firenze.
During the demonstration, Si Cobas reiterated that the arrest of their comrades was the tip of the iceberg of a strategy aimed at striking at the core of workers’ struggles, especially in the logistics sector, where the arbitrary working conditions and hunger wages were strongly contested.
«The aim of this attack», one of their documents reads, «is to prevent the development of a more general movement against the war, the rise in the cost of living and the blood and tears measures that future governments, whatever the political colouring of the coalition that emerges victorious from the next elections, will be forced to adopt in obedience to the dictates of the bosses and of big industrial and financial capital, in full compliance with Draghi’s work.»
The demonstration was tentatively aimed at the immediate release of the arrested comrades, but also aimed at achieving the mobilisation of a strong movement capable of addressing the serious situation of the working masses expected next autumn.
The next mobilization will take place at the time of the Bologna judicial re-examination hearing, and the movement is hereby called upon to mobilize quickly.
We express our solidarity with the arrested comrades!
With a view to the struggles that will take place in the future, we work towards the prospect of a large-scale coordination of all rank-and-file trade unionism, the conflictual movements and the unemployed, where a single platform of struggle could encompass the various disputes, provided that only and exclusively the interests of the proletariat are taken into account, outside the policies laid down by the CGIL, the CISL and the UIL (the three largest class-collaborationist trade union federations in Italy, n.p.).
Against the repression and criminalization of the struggle movement!
Towards the resumption of the class struggle!
International Communist Party
July, 24th 2022
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