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From The Socialist newspaper, 25 October 2002

Millions Join Italian General Strike

SINGING THE Internationale (the anthem of revolutionary socialism) thousands of workers marched in over 100 cities and towns as a three million-strong general strike brought Italy to a halt.

The second general strike in six months has again shown the determination Italian workers and youth have to fight back against the hated Berlusconi government.

Milan: the biggest demonstration saw 250,000 workers take to the streets to hear the recently retired secretary of CGIL, Sergio Coferatti, speak. Cofferatti is expected to turn to politics and aim to win the leadership of the ex-communist Democrats of the Left (DS). This would be seen as a significant shift to the left, even though politically, Cofferatti is a firm believer in capitalism.

Turin: 200,000 took to the streets and heard speeches from Fassino, a right-wing leader of the DS and Bertinotti the leader of the Communist Refoundation Party (PRC).

Florence: in the city which will play host to the European Social Forum in November, 200,000 packed the streets. In Rome 150,000 marched. In Bologna 85,000 took to the streets; in Genova 70,000 and in Palermo, 30,000.

The general strike raises again the need for a clear political campaign to bring down the Berlusconi government and replace it with a government of workers and young people. Capitalism offers no future for them; only socialist ideas can provide a real and just solution to unemployment, poverty and inequality.

Socialist Party members are attending the European Social Forum, details tel: 020 8988 8791.


Berlusconi Out! Say Angry Workers

UP TO 15,000 striking workers and youth filled the streets of Catania, Sicily, on 18 October in a show of strength against Berlusconi and his reactionary coalition.

It was one of hundreds of protests in Italy's second general strike in six months. The strike was in defence of article 18, a law that affords workers some small protection from the bosses, and against budget cuts.

It also is in support of the recent strike action by Fiat car workers threatened with 8,100 job cuts.

The CGIL (ex-communist) trade union confederation called the strike despite the CISL and UIL "moderate" unions making a deal with Berlusconi and Confindustria (the bosses' organisation) earlier this year. Workers jeered and whistled as we passed the UIL offices.

For Sicily - a region with high unemployment (120,000 in Palermo alone, 29% of the working population) - article 18 is even more important.

Last year workers at a petrochemical plant in Gela, western Sicily, staged a general strike and semi-insurrection when this small city's main employer was closing down, forcing state intervention. This strike was even more widespread as thousands of Sicilian workers face life on the dole at FIAT.

Thousands of youth from the universities and secondary schools turned out. The students used the general strike to protest against the reforms of education minister Letizia Moratti, Italy's own Margaret Thatcher!

The Catania Social Forum also supported the protest going further than CGIL in calling for article 18 to be extended to all workers. (The article only covers workplaces with more than 15 employees).

Henry Silke, Catania, Sicily.
Lotta per il socialismo (CWI, Italy)

'Disobedient' Movement Supports The Workers

THE ITALIAN youth movement - the 'disobedients' (formally known as 'tutti bianchi') took symbolic action over the length and breadth of Italy to coincide with the 18 October general strike.

Henry Silke, Italy

The three days of action began on 16 October with a national anti-McDonald's day - protesting against McDonald's treatment of its "McWorkers" and the multinational's environmental record.

The youth, who are organised around occupied 'social centres', protested on other anti-globalisation issues such as sweatshops, the environment and the forthcoming Iraq war.

In Bologna, activists occupied a Benetton shop. In Padova and Venice they organised anti-war protests. In Naples they occupied a job centre.

In Milan, an abandoned theatre was occupied. For the general strike itself in Rome they organised a strike parade in support of the workers.

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In The Socialist 25 October 2002:

Stand By The Firefighters

Protest on 31 October: Stop Bush And Blair's War Plans

Fighting for a Living Wage

Editorial: Firefighters' Struggle Is All Workers' Struggle

Student fees: "Top" Universities Plan Top-Up Fees

Millions Join Italian General Strike

35 years after the Abortion Act: For A Real Right To Choose

Stoke: Racist BNP Pose A Warning To Workers

Ireland's Referendum: How The Bosses Got Their Yes Vote


 

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