Last week, CWI online reported on the Italian general strike. Below is a further eyewitness account of this important protest against the Berlusconi government.
CWI Online, 25 October 2002
There were three different processions in the morning: two of the Cgil and one of the so- called ’unions of the base’ (Cobas, Sin.Cobas, Slai Cobas, Rdb etc.). Nearly 200,000 people were in the processions of the Cgil and around 9,000 people in the demo of the unions of base. We must also remember that in the same moment, other local demonstrations called by Cgil, took place in different cities of Tuscany.
In Florence the demonstrations of the Cgil both ended at a rally in front of a local office of the RAI (Italian state television), to link this strike with the struggle about control over public television. The demonstration of the unions of the base went to the centre of the city, from Piazza S. Marco to Piazza Santissima Annunziata. It included the local Social Forum and some groups of students. Although it was not a really big number of people, it was very colorful and made a big noise.
There was a big number of workers of the public sector, many firefighters and some teachers of Cobas. There was also a group of metalworkers.
Some of the people in this procession disagreed with the decision to make a separate procession from the Cgil. Others agreed with the decision but remarked on the small numbers of participants at this demo.
I think an unsuccessful attempt was made before the strike by the leader of Cobas - Bernocchi - to get agreement on making united processions. I think also that a part of Sin.Cobas was in the demonstrations of the Cgil. In this demonstration there were many flags of Communist Re-foundation. There were also many anarchists and some Bordigist supporters. Many members of the local Social Centres (particularly of the CPA in Florence) were also in this demonstration.
A group of students and temporary (’precarious’) workers - the so-called Omne - made a colourful snake, with their members walking in single file. In the afternoon a group of people squatted a site of the new high-speed railway, near Florence (Sesto Fiorentino), against this project.