“We can’t fire them.” For anyone who has ever worked in Italy, the complaint is a familiar one. Often proffered to British and American employees, who are used to working with at-will type contracts, where staff can be let go on a whim, there’s an air of “Why can’t we be more like you?” to the declaration, as though a lack of job security is a more natural, albeit desirable state of affairs.
Made in reference to employees who aren’t quite making the grade, the complaint is symptomatic of Italian labor culture, and those who would criticize it for its post-war worker protections, and its continuing union influences. Think The Economist, with its endless denunciations of Italy’s backwardness. If it’s not Berlusconi, it’s the Communists. If only Italy could ‘liberalize’ its labor laws, and scale back its public sector, it would be more competitive.
Few aspects of Italian labor culture are communicated to foreigners more than strikes. Pick up any tourist guide to the country, and inevitably one will encounter warnings and advice about how to deal with their inevitability. Specifically transit strikes, as they often disrupt train travel, in areas frequented by vacationers from abroad. The following flyer translation, about strike prohibitions, is posted with that in mind.
WE ALL ARE WAREHOUSE WORKERS!
Against redundancies and strike prohibition!
Against the specious cut of 35% of the salary that Granarolo and cooperative subcontractors of Bologna warehouses wanted to impose on their workers, they responded with struggle and strike.
Just like in past years, as many of their workmates have done in hundreds of warehouses all over Italy, starting an exemplary cycle of strikes that could revitalize the struggle at a national level with 3 general strikes blocking the whole sector.
Today, against Granarolo, strikers are clashing with owners (Lega Coop and Granarolo at the top of the list), cooperatives and government.
The attack is savage: political redundancies (41 workers from Granarolo and 9 from Coop Adriatica) and strong pressure, through the Guarantee Commission, to order back to work and fine struggling workers and their union organizations (Sl. Cobas ans ADL Cobas).
A global attack that, in particular, is aiming to hit at the forefront the struggle of logistics workers, but that, in general, questions the complete political and union capacity of us all, the possibility to carry out real strikes, to have influence, and to affect the interests of the owner.
Endorsing the warehouse workers struggle, starting from the Granarolo dispute, means to defend the tools and the capacity to struggle of workers in every sector!
TO REFLECT ON THESE ELEMENTS, TO ORGANIZE THE GENOA SUPPORTING CAMPAIGN, TO MAINTAIN THE RESISTANCE FUND FOR THOSE MADE REDUNDANT….
WE INVITE ALL TO THE PUBLIC MEETING!
FRIDAY 19 OF JULY
PIAZZA S.LORENZO, FROM 7 PM
8 PM COCKTAIL FOR THE DISMISSED
9 PM PROJECTION OF THE VIDEO ABOUT WAREHOUSE WORKERS STRUGGLES
9.30 DEBATE AND LAUNCH OF RESISTANCE FUND
COORDINATION FOR SUPPORTING STRUGGLES
Translated from the Italian by Giulia Pace. Introduction and photographs courtesy of Joel Schalit.