[Edoardo Montenegro, Turin] - On Saturday, October 16th, a huge mass of workers and citizens gathered in Rome to defend the rights of Italian metalworkers following recent labour disputes at FIAT in Pomigliano and Melfi (1). The demonstration was a remarkable success for FIOM-CGIL (2), which suggested a general strike to be called soon (3).
The debate had split Italian trade unions after CISL and UIL (4) accepted FIAT bid to give up the current metalworkers contract in exchange for new investments in Italy, while FIOM-CGIL resolutely refused it (5).
The dispute had become wicked as egg launchers attacked CISL and UIL offices in several Italian cities (6), while CISL Secretary General Raffaele Bonanni was launched a smoke bomb at a public speech in Turin (7). FIOM and CGIL firmly condemned any violent attack (8).
Overtly supporting CISL and UIL against FIOM-CGIL (9), the Italian Government had repeatedly claimed that FIOM protest in Rome might be violent, raising accusations of dangerously fanning the flames (10).
As outlined by Gad Lerner, the quiet atmosphere of Rome demonstration made FIOM-CGIL able to claim the respect of basic rights, such as striking and absenting of work due to illness, which actually are under attack (11).
If on one hand, as the former leader of CGIL Sergio Cofferati remarked, the trade unions are always supposed to defend the rights of workers (12), on the other hand - as Paolo Flores d'Arcais explained - FIOM-CGIL was indeed extremely effective in putting together the rights of workers with Italy's need for growth (13).
The success of FIOM-CGIL represents also a defeat for the Italian Democratic Party (14), which obstinately and ineffectively claims to be equidistant from different trade unions (15). The Italy of Values and Left Ecology and Freedom, instead, happily supported the demonstration (16).
(1) Guy Dinmore, "Protests hit Rome's efforts to cut deficit", ft.com, October 18th 2010.
(2) Founded in 1901 and led by Maurizio Landini, the Federation of Metallurgical Employees and Workers (FIOM) is the metallurgic section of CGIL (Italian General Labour Confederation). CGIL, founded in 1906 and led by Guglielmo Epifani, is the main Italian trade union with an estimated 6 mln members (fiom.cgil.it and cgil.it).
(3) Alessandro Capponi, "Epifani: dal governo risposte o sarà sciopero", corriere.it, Octrober 17th 2010.
(4) Founded in 1948 and led by Raffaele Bonanni, the Italian Confederation of Labour Trade Unions (CISL) is the second Italian trade union with an estimated 4.5 mln members (cisl.it). Founded in 1950 and led by Luigi Angeletti, the Italian Union of Labour is the third Italian trade union with an estimated 1,75 million members (uil.it).
(5) Paolo Griseri, "Tute blu contro tute blu. Così ci si divide in fabbrica", repubblica.it, October 4th 2010.
(6) Roberto Mania, "Nuovo attacco a una sede Cisl. Scritte insultanti e lanci di uova. La Polizia allerta i prefetti", repubblica.it, October 13th 2010. Read also Nicoletta Picchio, "Assalto a Confindustria Padova", ilsole24ore.com, October 14th 2010.
(7) "Festa Pd, blitz dei centri sociali: Bonanni colpito da un fumogeno", lastampa.it, September 8th 2010.
(8) Read Luigina Venturelli, "Nuovi attacchi a Cisl e Uil. Epifani: fatti vergognosi", unita.it, October 13th 2010. Read also Luisa Grion, "Landini: un gesto da condannare ma vero colpo di mano è di altri", repubblica.it, October 1st 2010.
(9) Roberto Mania, "Sacconi: 'A Roma una minoranza radicale inadatta a governare'", la Repubblica, October 17th 2010. Read also Cesare Peruzzi, "La ricetta Sacconi: salario legato alla produttività", ilsole24ore.com, October 17th 2010.
(10) Alberto D'Argenio, "'Corteo Fiom a rischio incidenti'. Bufera sull'allarme di Maroni", la Repubblica, October 15th 2010.
(11) Gad Lerner, "Il valore del lavoro e la politica distante", repubblica.it, October 17th 2010.
(12) Giorgio Meletti, "Cofferati: sto con la FIOM. Il PD? Spero che capisca", ilfattoquotidiano.it, October 14th 2010.
(13) Paolo Flores d'Arcais, "Strategia della tensione", ilfattoquotidiano.it, October 15th 2010.
(14) Dario Di Vico, "Il sindacato metalmeccanico si fa partito e la sua piazza 'cattura' il segretario Cgil", corriere.it, October 17th 2010.
(15) Claudio Tito, "Bersani: Cisl e Uil non hanno tradito. 'Il Pd non sceglie tra i sindacati'", repubblica.it, October 18th 2010.
(16) Luca Telese, "Il Pd scompare, Vendola e Di Pietro ne approfittano", ilfattoquotidiano.it, October 17th 2010.