“We are your angels when we rescue you, but we pay our bills with money, not with wings,” said an ironic banner carried by firefighters belonging to the Unione Sindacale di Base as they marched in Rome on Sunday, along with S.I. Cobas, many other grassroots unions and the left, starting with Unione Popolare, Potere al Popolo and Rifondazione Comunista.
After Friday’s general strike (organized by Cub, Sgb, S.I. Cobas, Unicobas, Usb, Usi-Cit, Cobas, Cobas Sardegna and Adl Varese) together with some 20 local protests in Rome and Milan, the procession of thousands of people marched through the streets of the capital to Piazza San Giovanni. The demonstration stressed the link between the wage emergency and the socio-economic crisis, made worse by record inflation and high utility bills.
The message spread was one of awareness that this nexus can be broken by defunding arms production and using public funds for welfare, which is being cut by the Meloni government, both regarding the “citizenship income” (reduced by €734 million in 2023) and pension revaluation (€3.7 billion decrease), not to mention the “Flat Tax” that rewards the wealthy self-employed and punishes the poor.
The protesters demanded that the “citizenship income” should not be cut, but properly implemented and accompanied with a €10 minimum wage as the absolute minimum. But the Meloni government, just like previous executives, has no intention to pass such a measure.
“‘No’ to the war in Ukraine and ‘No’ to all imperialist wars” was the slogan chanted in Via Cavour on the way towards Piazza dell’Esquilino, bringing together social issues with a pacifist position and a critique of the neo-imperialist and nationalist tendency of capitalism in crisis. This stance was summed up by the banner at the front of the march: “Lower Arms, Raise Wages.”
In the front row was a large representation of the farm laborers organized by the USB who live in the “Great Ghetto” near San Severo (Foggia), now known as “Torretta Antonacci.”
The speakers, who spoke into a microphone installed on a truck wrapped in the banner “Workers and students, children of the same rage,” highlighted the continuity between the Meloni government and the previous government of Mario Draghi: “Meloni pretended to be in opposition, and then, once she was in government, she continued its policies, making them worse,” said Marta Collot (Potere al Popolo).
“Meloni is just like Draghi economically, in terms of adherence to European policies, hyper-Atlanticism and blindly following NATO,” stressed Paolo Leonardi (USB). The protest was also joined by Luigi De Magistris (Unione Popolare), aiming “to build social opposition and a government alternative, against the system and for the implementation of the anti-Fascist Constitution.”
For Maurizio Acerbo (Rifondazione Comunista), this is “the only way to oppose neoliberal policies and the return of austerity.”