Italy: Workers’ struggles set to grip Italy

Even over Christmas and on New Year’s Day, there have been demonstrations of protest, with blockades, in a number of factories of the Fiat group (like Termini Imerese and Mirafiori).

On 23rd of December, the share-rating agency "Moody’s" gave the shares of Fiat "junk bond" status. They immediately fell to nearly 5 % of their original value. After that, a new project for Fiat was put on the table: the entrance into Fiat ownership of R.Colaninno (an entrepreneur close to Prime Minister Berlusconi) with a large injection of capital. This idea had the support of the banks, and the price of Fiat shares went up again. However, Colaninno seems only to have financial plans and is not likely to be able to save the workers under threat of losing their jobs. The company’s head, Agnelli, is anyway against this project.

Other sectors of workers, including transport workers and metal mechanics are preparing new strikes for January over their contracts and also over other problems. There is also a further general strike being planned for this month.

Parliament has approved the new financial law (budget). It is more confused than the first draft, but without big changes. Cuts in public spending will continue and the protests in education will not diminish.

There has been much hot debate about changes to the constitution (riforme istituzionali). In his traditional end-of-year speech, the president of the Republic, C. A. Ciampi, commenting on the plans for "devolution", stressed the need for unity in the country. But he also now appears more open to the idea of the war in Iraq, which will again generate massive protest demonstrations.

There has also been a debate raging about the rate of inflation between two statistitical agencies – Istat and Eurispes. The first thinks that prices are going up by 3.8 % the second thinks that prices are growing at the rate of 29%! Either way, working people, unemployed workers, pensioners and young people will find life getting harder in the coming year as no improvement in the economy is on the cards.

All of these issues point to another period of intense struggle in Italy and emphasise the need for a clear rallying cry based on the need to fight for a socialist alternative to capitalist crisis.

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