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News :: International
Workers shut down Italy for a day
18 Dec 2004
Workers shut down Italy for a day

By John Catalinotto
Over a million workers from three trade union confederations joined for a Dec. 1 general strike in Italy. They were protesting right-wing media magnate and current Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's social and economic policies.

Their specific demand was to stop an $8 billion tax cut set to be accompanied by enormous cuts in social services.

This was the fourth general strike since Berlusconi took office in 2001.

Despite heavy rain throughout the country, hundreds of thousands of workers, unemployed and retired people, and students marched and rallied in 70 Italian cities. The protests spanned the country, from the northern industrial belt to Sicily.

According to unionists, some 80 percent of workers took part in the stoppage. Much of Italy ground to a halt.

In the decades after World War II, such a splendid general strike would probably have led to the Italian bosses and bankers making concessions to organized labor. Since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union, however, the Western European ruling class has been on a broad offensive against the workers. The capitalists want to reverse every gain workers made in that earlier period.

The so-called center-left parties in Italy hope for an electoral victory over Berlus coni in 2006. However, these same parties had earlier opened the door to worker givebacks. Nothing has shown that they would reverse this policy in the future.

Western European workers still retain many of the social gains already lost in the United States and Britain since the Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher governments. But everything is under attack today in Western Europe, from pension benefits to free education to health-care insurance to decent unemployment payments. Meanwhile industry moves to areas of cheaper labor in Eastern Europe or Asia.

Whether under the Social Democrat/ Green alliance in Germany or the center-right governments in Portugal and Italy, workers' gains are imperiled. The Monday- night worker demonstrations in Germany, action days and even one-day general strikes would seem revolutionary here in the United States,and they are an excellent sign of workers' readiness to struggle. But in and of themselves they have not been sufficient to stop the capitalist offensive.

Reprinted from the Dec. 16, 2004, issue of Workers World newspaper
See also:
http://www.workers.org

This work is in the public domain
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Re: Workers shut down Italy for a day
19 Dec 2004
Avanti o popolo, alla riscossa,
Bandiera rossa, Bandiera rossa
Avanti o popolo, alla riscossa,
Bandiera rossa trionferà.

Bandiera rossa la trionferà
Bandiera rossa la trionferà
Bandiera rossa la trionferà
Evviva il comunismo e la libertà.

Degli sfruttati l’immensa schiera
La pura innalzi, rossa bandiera.
O proletari, alla riscossa
Bandiera rossa trionferà.

Bandiera rossa la trionferà
Bandiera rossa la trionferà
Bandiera rossa la trionferà
Il frutto del lavoro a chi lavora andrà.

Dai campi al mare, alla miniera,
All’officina, chi soffre e spera,
Sia pronto, è l’ora della riscossa.
Bandiera rossa trionferà.

Bandiera rossa la trionferà
Bandiera rossa la trionferà
Bandiera rossa la trionferà
Soltanto il comunismo è vera libertà.

Non più nemici, non più frontiere :
Sono i confini rosse bandiere.
O comunisti, alla riscossa,
Bandiera rossa trionferà.

Bandiera rossa la trionferà
Bandiera rossa la trionferà
Bandiera rossa la trionferà
Evviva Lenin, la pace e la libertà.