Trade unions and left activists across the world are protesting the persecution of trade unionists in the logistics sector in the Italian city of Piacenza. On the morning of July 19, eight trade unionists were put under house arrest on the orders of the Piacenza Prosecutor’s Office. Among them was Aldo Milani, the national coordinator of Si Cobas. They are accused of organizing strikes and disrupting work at warehouses of multinational logistics companies. Trade unionists and workers were earlier 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 unions like 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 for use in imperialist wars.
Since their arrest, several protest demonstrations have been organized in front of Italian embassies and consulates in various cities, including in Athens, Hamburg, Basel, Berlin, Bremen, Frankfurt, Kiel, New York and Vienna in solidarity with arrested trade unionists from Si Cobas.
The World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) condemned the attack against militant trade unionists in Italy. Lefteris Nikolaou-Alavanos, Member of European Parliament (MEP) from the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), also filed a complaint in the European Commission against the arrests and criminalization of trade unionism in Italy. Working class sections in Italy organized a national strike in the logistics sector on July 20 and a massive protest demonstration in Piacenza on July 23 demanding the immediate release of the trade unionists.
The All Workers Militant Front (PAME) of Greece organized a militant demonstration in front of the Italian embassy in Athens on July 20, denouncing the arrests. PAME stated, “in Italy the USB and Si Cobas unions are facing a 350-page indictment of the Piacenza Prosecutor’s Office in which unions and trade unionists are accused of “crimes” such as strike guards, protests and mobilizations in the transport-logistics sector.”
The PAME statement read: “It is obvious that in Italy the employers of the logistics sector, alarmed by the growing anger of the workers of the sector and the militant action of the unions, are using the Italian state apparatus to attack the unions that are struggling.”
In his letter to the European Commission 0n July 22, Nikolaou-Alavanos asked the commission about its position on the demand for the workers’ immediate acquittal from all accusations, as well as the release of the eight trade unionists currently under house arrest.
“On the fact that the Italian authorities have criminalized trade union activity, which is an inalienable right of workers, the struggles of workers to improve their working conditions, and the right of workers to decide, based on their internal trade union procedures, the organization of actions (general assemblies, protests, pickets, strikes) to inform and coordinate the struggle of workers to improve their working conditions?” he asked.
Trade Unionists from Verdi and activists from various left-wing platforms took part in demonstrations in front of Italian consulates across Germany on July 26.