On 3rd April 100,000 people marched in a demonstration in Rome against
the NATO bombing campaign in Yugoslavia. A week later another
demonstration of over 50,000 took place. There is a lot of opposition to
the NATO bombing among the workers and youth in Italy in spite of the
There was a demonstration about 3,000 strong at the Aviano air base in
Northern Italy. This is one of the bases the NATO warplanes are using.
The demonstration was brutally attacked by the police who waded into the
demonstrators with truncheons and fired tear-gas cannisters. There is
widespread opposition to the bombing among the students, but even more
important have been the developments in the labour movement.
On Thursday, 22nd April, over 600 shop stewards gathered in the Milan
CGIL trade union headquarters to take part in a national assembly called
by forty factory councils. The meeting called on the national leadership
of the three main trade union federations (CGIL,CISL and UIL) to organise
a general strike against the war. They also decided to organise a series
of mass meetings in the factories on the question.
What happened in the town of Massa, in Tuscany, is an indication of how
the movement could develop. The official unions, CGIL, CISL and UIL,
organised a four hour provincial general strike on 19th April. This was
the first serious strike action called by the trade unions against the
war. The national leadership seems less prepared to organise a serious
movement, but the pressure could build up, especially if ground troops
are sent in.
The number of people on the demonstartion was 5,000. A large number of
school teachers were there with a banner that had had some lines from a
Bertold Brecht poem: "Among the vanquished the poor people went hungry,
among the victors the poor people went hungry." Prior to the
demonstration teachers and students had organised meetings in the schools
on the war.
Apart from the teachers there were also blue collar workers from the
factories, government workers, the pensioners union, the railway workers
and the workers from the marble quarries of Carrara. Significantly, there
was also a delegation on the demonstration from the SIULP (the police
All this took place despite attempts on the part of the PDS (Party of the
Democratic Left, one of the two parties that emerged from the split in
the old Communist Party back in 1991) leaders to convince workers not to
take part in the strike. As the provincial secretary of the CISL pointed
out, "In taking this decision [to call the strike] I believe that the
trade union movement has remained faithful to its traditions."
The PDS led government is using all its energies to convince the workers
and youth of Italy that the bombing is for a just cause, but as the
bombing intensifies, and especially if ground troops are sent in,
opposition will grow.
The strike in Massa may just be the beginning.