Protests break out in Italy against persecution of trade unionists

On July 19, eight trade unionists were apprehended by the police on the orders of the Piacenza Prosecutor’s Office for organizing strikes and unionizing

July 22, 2022 by Peoples Dispatch
Workers Protest - Italy
(Photo: via FGC)

Working class sections in Italy have registered strong protest against the state-led persecution of trade unionists. On Wednesday, July 20, trade unions including Si Cobas, ADL and USB organized a national strike at logistics warehouses across Italy protesting the arrest of eight trade unionists. Aldo Milani, the national coordinator of SI Cobas, was among those arrested on July 19. Progressive political groups like Potere al Popolo (Power to the People), Communist Youth Front (FGC), Communist Refoundation Party (PRC), Young Communists (GC), Italian Communist Party (PCI), and others denounced the arrests and participated in the protest. Major mobilizations were organized in Milan, Turin, Rome, Naples, Bologna, Piacenza, Genoa, and other cities. Protesters have demanded the immediate release of the arrested trade unionists.

According to reports, on the morning of July 19, eight trade unionists were put under house arrest on the orders of the Piacenza Prosecutor’s Office. They are accused of organizing strikes and disrupting work at warehouses of multinational logistics companies. Earlier, trade unionists and workers were subjected to police repression for protesting against poor working conditions in logistics warehouses. 

Workers in the logistics sector have been organizing dynamic mobilizations in defense of jobs and workers’ rights in various warehouses and units of logistics giants like Amazon, Nippon Express, Fedex TNT, and others in Piacenza under the leadership of Si Cobas and USB. In April this year, the national gendarmerie of Italy, the Carabinieri, raided the national headquarters of USB, allegedly in search of weapons. The raid took place in the aftermath of protests organized by USB against the use of Italian ports and airstrips to dispatch arms and ammunition to be used in imperialist wars.

In response to the police action on July 19, Si Cobas stated, “it’s a very heavy assault on the freedom of union and the right to strike, brought on by a sector of the judiciary that has already distinguished itself over the years for its anti-union [action] with complaints, arrests and residence bans. With accusations of “violence” and “extortion” they want to suppress workers’ struggles against exploitation and for wages, at a time when Italian and international owners and speculators are robbing wages, while prices have increased 8% (10% for low income families) and more. A generalized fight to defend the purchasing power …is urgent.”

Potere al Popolo said, “what do the prosecutors really want to punish the unionists for? For having defended workers’ rights, for having created organizational tools and, above all, for winning. Thanks to basic union struggles the lives of many workers, often treated as slaves, have improved.”

The FGC said, “The message is clear..organizing in a union to improve one’s own living and working conditions, is not a crime.”

The unions have called for a protest mobilization at Piacenza on July 23.