Archive article from The Socialist Issue 289
Italy: Direct Action Against War...
LAST WEEKEND saw dramatic scenes of direct action in Italy to stop the movement of US military supplies in the country.
One major convoy was forced to stop and to re-route in a number of different places by hundreds of demonstrators occupying the tracks. The biggest US military base in Europe at Camp Darby, near Pisa, was under siege for seven hours overnight from Friday to Saturday.
Representatives of the biggest trade union federation, the Cgil, have been forced by the pressure of dockers in Livorno and Genoa to declare: "No worker will put arms on ships".
Representatives of railway workers, already involved in their own strikes over cuts in jobs and pay, have been pressed to demand that Italian railway staff and resources are not used to transport arms.
Strike action, if war breaks out, is now widely under discussion, with the 'unions of the base' like Cobas and Rdb, the country's social forums and the left Communist Party of Re-foundation (RC) all pushing for Europe-wide action on the day after the first bombs fall on Iraq.
This idea must be coordinated and argued for by activists in every workplace. Assemblies or mass meetings need to be called to discuss the issues. 'Stop the War' committees need to be set up to prepare and produce explanatory leaflets, posters for rallies, etc.
Such committees could link up the need to campaign against war with the on-going class struggle against the policies of the hated Berlusconi government.
...general strike over wages
THE THREE million-strong anti-war protest demonstration in Rome on 15 February was indeed a magnificent landmark in Italy's proud history of struggle. Then, less than a week later that on 21 February, came a four-hour general strike of industry and small workshops called by the Cgil and accompanied by mass demonstrations in all the main cities across the country.
"In the Florence area," writes Fabrizio Cucchi, a carpenter in a small workshop, "this strike was a success, especially in the industrial sector. At the regional demonstration, there were about 15,000 strikers, including some with banners from Empoli and also Fucecchio. The mood was combative and determined for pursuing the struggle."
The widely supported Cgil-called strike was mainly over wages and job security. However, it's becoming clearer by the day that a more energetic and concerted campaign is required from the union leaders in order to defeat the reactionary Berlusconi government. The metal-workers' section of the Cgil, Fiom, (which is at the sharp end of the crisis in Italy's manufacturing industry - symbolised by the special crisis at Fiat), decided to go for eight hours of strike action last Friday and will continue to push the Cgil to step up the strike campaign, drawing in, if possible, the other union organisations in Italy.
Coming as they did on the eve of war, and so soon after the massive Rome protest, the demonstrations during last Friday's strike inevitably saw many slogans against the US attack on Iraq, combining the social and economic struggles directly with the fight against war.
On the same day, 21 February, Tony Blair was visiting Rome to discuss the US' military plans with his Italian counter-part, Berlusconi, and also with the Pope, who has recently come out against this war.
As hostility to pro-war governments builds up, it will take more than a blessing from the Pope to save these prime ministers from the wrath of their opponents!
Stop Work To Stop The War!
IN AUSTRALIA, nine unions are refusing to work on US warships in Fremantle. On the mass anti-war demos, the slogan "Stop work to stop the war" was enthusiastically taken up.
200,000 people rallied in Melbourne on 15 February, the biggest demonstration in the history of Australia. The rally included a contingent of 5,000 workers from militant unions.
The Victorian leader of Australia's strongest and most militant union, the construction division of the CFMEU, announced that unions had decided to call a lunchtime strike and rally the day after war was declared. This was first raised in the union by members of the Socialist Party - Australian section of the Committee for a Workers International (CWI) - and has now spread as an idea to other unions, including in Western Australia.
JOE HIGGINS, Socialist Party TD (MP) in the Irish Dail, has suggested that, on the day after the first bombs are dropped, workers meet in work and walk out together, either immediately or, at lunch-time, to go to mass rallies of protest and outrage.
IN GREECE, due to the intervention of CWI members in the Social Forum, the call has been adopted for an All-European general strike against the war. This will now be taken to the European Social Forum.
THE CWI, the socialist international which the Socialist Party in England and Wales is affiliated to, is organised in 36 countries, on every continent. It is calling for workplace meetings/assemblies to discuss the issues involved in the war and to elect Stop the War committees to prepare for strike action. It has produced the following model resolution: