They had not taken to the streets with national-level demonstrations since pre-COVID times—since December 11, 2019, to be precise. On Friday, the CGIL, CISL and UIL union confederations once again organized nationwide street protests—with the requisite masks—in 21 cities, at least one for each region.
The three main marches took place in Milan, in Piazza del Duomo, with Annamaria Furlan, in Rome, in Piazza del Popolo, with Pierpaolo Bombardieri, and in Naples, in Piazza Dante, with Maurizio Landini. In the latter, of course, the conflict with Whirlpool was the central issue, the multinational company that confirmed its plans to shut down its factory in October. The slogan chosen was “Let’s start again from work.”
“We will be in the Italian squares to give a voice to labor and to put the fight against precariousness at the center,” said the Secretary General of CGIL, Maurizio Landini. “We are asking the government to make decisions that will go in the direction of spending European money well; we are asking for a tax reform worthy of the name, for investing in healthcare, education, schooling, for an industrial policy that focuses on environmental protection and the right to training.”
The official platform of the protests is even broader, calling for “the extension of the social shock absorbers and the resolution of the too-many open disputes; tax reform and the fight against tax evasion; the renewal of national public and private contracts affecting more than ten million workers; the right to education and safe schools; public health, safety at the workplace, science and culture; investments, industrial policies, digitization, stable and sustainable work, support for the South; a law for those facing a lack of self-sufficiency, welfare and social inclusion.”
On Thursday, one week after the ISTAT data that reported a loss of 841,000 jobs in the second quarter of 2020, INPS, in its “Observatory on precarious employment” report, confirmed the worrying picture of the status of employees in the private sector during the health emergency. Compared to the previous year, recruitment fell by 83% in April (the worst month), 56% in May and 40% in June, with an average drop of 42% in the first half of 2020.
“The extension of the shock absorbers and the block on layoffs,” CGIL, CISL and UIL write, “will not produce the desired effects if the country will not be able to restart by focusing its interventions on work, on the necessary reforms, starting from the fiscal one. Today, we are in a difficult social context, conditioned by a political immobility that does not allow to envision shared choices that would be able to seize the opportunities that the European resources, the Recovery Fund and also the MES, would be able to turn into reality.” According to the three union confederations, “new answers are needed, in particular for young people, women and pensioners, who during these months have paid more than others for the lack of planning of measures able to ensure concrete support. The country needs to rebuild a social fabric that the COVID emergency has severely tested and is still testing, starting from the health system.”
For this reason, CGIL, CISL and UIL called for this mobilization “because we have to start again from work, from good work, where one works in safety and where both public and private contracts are renewed, an essential condition to give people value and dignity.”
Their main demand remains the same: a meeting with the government at the Chigi Palace, with the presence of Prime Minister Conte. This Wednesday, the meeting with Landini, Furlan and Bombardieri at Patuanelli’s Ministry of Economic Development to discuss the Recovery Fund was postponed, with a new date set for September 24. We will see if Conte himself gives some sign of life in the meantime.
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