Position of Communist Party (Italy)
“Communists’ activity in the working class, for its unity and the creation
of a class-oriented union ”
The question of the relationship with the working class and the activity of the Party within it for its unity and the development of its class consciousness, so that the working class can fulfill its historical role, as the liberator of the whole society, is a very important issue, requiring an analytical and organizational approach corresponding to its significance.
The irreconcilable conflict between labor and capital is today manifesting itself with particular intensity in conditions of unfavorable balance of forces for the working class. The disappearance of the USSR and the world socialist system; the absence of counterbalances to the dominance of monopolistic capital; the formation of imperialist alliances and inter-state unions such, as the European Union and the BRICS, pursuing a concerted and planned policy in the interests of capitalistic monopolies; the opportunist drift of certain communist parties and the transformation of traditional trade unions, controlled by of social-democratic reformism, into accomplices of the bourgeoisie; – all this has put the working class in a difficult position and exposes it to severe attacks of the class enemy on the economic, regulatory, political and ideological front.
The reduction of the wage in all its forms is not a temporary consequence of the last crisis, but a policy of capital, planned and coordinated at the European Union level, already carried out many years before the crisis in order to increase competitiveness in the context of generalized and sharpening inter-imperialist competition. As for Italy, the available data show that our country, in terms of wage, ranks the 23rd place out of 28 countries; that means the level of wages in Italy is much lower than the average of the EU-28 and the Eurozone. Household consumption per capita is steadily declining since 2006, and its percentage values for Italy are below the Euro Area average and much below the EU-28 average. The reduction of direct wages, the curtailment of basic social services, which became paid after privatization, the lowering of the rate of return for
pension contributions and the working age prolongation have ensured the growth of profits and implemented a further transfer of wealth from labor to capital, which led to a sharp deterioration in the living conditions of the working class. In our country, impoverishment is dramatic and affects not only the working class, but also the large strata of the proletarianized petty bourgeoisie. According to Eurostat, in Italy there are 10.5 million poor, the highest absolute volume in the European Union, 14% of the total 75 million poor in the EU. According to ISTAT, an additional 18 million Italians, that is, 30% of the total population, are “at risk of poverty or social exclusion”. The risk of poverty in Italy is slightly higher than in Spain, above the average risk in the EU, and much higher than in France and Germany.
Despite the relative economic recovery, the policy of wage cuts does not stop, but intensifies, in pursuit of the even lower wage level of the capitalist countries of Asia and Latin America, almost at the physiological limit.
After having paid for the capitalist crisis, the working class now pays for capitalist restructuring, for the adaptation of monopolies to the changed conditions of markets and competition. The deterioration in the living conditions of the working class is also facilitated by the increase in prices for essential goods, services and utilities. It should be noted that inflation has bee artificially activated by the European Central Bank. We also should not forget about the unbearable tax burden weighing on the back of the working people. Taxes seized from the working people are the vast majority of tax revenues and are used to subsidize capitalist enterprises, private banks, the Catholic Church and to fund military expenditures.
The intensification of exploitation also manifests itself by the acceleration of production pace and the replacement of the labor power by new technologies. The replacement of the labor power with technology in itself leads to a drop in the rate of profit, which, however, can be compensated, all else held constant, reducing necessary labor up to the limit of physiological reproduction of the labor power, and thereby increasing surplus labor. This, in turn, leads to an increase in the pumping out of the relative surplus value from the remaining labor power, that is to an increase in the intensity of its exploitation.
Technological replacement of the labor power, outsourcing and moving production abroad have a negative impact on employment. Contrary to the optimistic statements of the bourgeois governments, employment, measured in hours actually worked, has not increased, despite the tax incentives and the exemption from social security contributions granted to capital. Unemployment continues affecting large segments of the proletariat and the people, especially among youth and in Southern Italy, and is increasingly being used to blackmail workers to further wage cuts. The small increase in female employment in Italy does not contradict the aforesaid. In fact, this is explained by the replacement of male labor with cheaper female labor. In Italy, women earn on
average 25% less than men in equal jobs and education degree.
In addition, outsourcing and the relocation of production abroad cause additional damage: by fragmenting the labor power, they complicate communication with the class and within it, weaken the workers and make them more easily controlled and managed by employers, up to the blunting of their class consciousness and to the loss of the sense of class solidarity.
Our party included in its electoral program important urgent claims to economic issues, calling the workers to struggle for their achievment. Among them, significant increase in wages in the amount of not less than 300 euros per month, establishment of a guaranteed by law minimum wage of at least 10 euros per hour, restoration of indexation of wages and pensions, reducing working hours to 32 hours per week with an equal salary, retirement at 60 years for all and even earlier for the most grueling jobs, right and wage equality for men and women, increasing the minimum pension to 1,300 euros per month.
We understand that most of these requirements are incompatible with the economic restrictions imposed by capitalism, the European Union and its organs. The well-being and the assertion of the rights of the masses can be fully ensured only through the withdrawal from the European Union, the overthrow of capitalism and the beginning of the process of building socialism-communism.
Nevertheless, the struggle to achieve these economic goals, in addition to opening up
contradictions that upset the balance of the system, can only help to raise the working class and the masses from the current dramatic conditions and improve their living standards.
The attack on the regulatory and legal grounds is an integral part of capitalist restructuring, with the goal of giving legitimacy the predatory economic policies against the working class in the framework of bourgeois law. It should be noted that the legal and regulatory attack for the elimination of the workers’ rights is a long-term strategy that, at least in Italy, capital and the bourgeois state have undertaken since the mid-70s with the active complicity of “eurocommunist”, opportunist and reformist elements in the Italian Communist party and the confederate trade unions. This strategy, which is being implemented in a coordinated manner in all EU countries with different methods, intensity and pace in each country, goes hand in hand with the process of degeneration of traditional trade unions, which have become accomplices of exploiters, and significantly accelerated its pace after the disappearance of the USSR and the generalization of inter-imperialist competition. It can be said that the legal and regulatory attack on workers’ rights is now the official EU labor policy.
As for Italy, the so-called “Consolidated Agreement on Representation”, signed by the
collaborationist confederation trade unions and the basis union USB and the Federation of Industrialists on January 10th, 2014, provides for the following restrictions on workers’ rights:
mandatory preliminary signing of the Consolidated Agreement on Representation, as a
prerequisite for admission to the negotiating table; this means that those trade unions that
do not not accept this agreement are not recognized as workers’ representatives; in this
way the most militant class trade unions are excluded from negotiations;
the prevalence of the National Collective Bargaining Agreement over the Enterprise
Bargaining Agreements has been practically abolished and employers can now include
worse conditions in the enterprise level agreements in derogation from the Collective
Agreement, taking advantage of the greater weakness of workers at the single enterprise
level than at the sector level;
only trade unions representing at least 5% of the workers in the given sector are admitted to the negotiating table, with the explicit aim of preventing the participation of new class oriented
delegates elected directly by the workers are considered as their representatives only if
they belong to the trade unions that signed the aforementioned “pact with the devil”; this
means that delegates no longer represent workers, but just official trade unions; as a
result, the freedom of representation is practically abolished;
strike is banned during negotiations; this means that workers have no right to defend their interests during the negotiation process;
strike against the terms of the agreement is banned if the agreement is approved by the majority of the workers’ representatives; this means that workers have no right not to accept the contract signed by official trade unions;
a strike is legal only if it is called by officially recognized trade unions or by the majority of the workers’ representatives, which is the same;
disciplinary, economic and administrative sanctions are applied against those workers who still strike against bonded agreements signed by official trade unions.
The renewal of the Bargaining Agreement of Metalworkers and Machinists, on the one hand, and Employees of Public Service, on the other hand, has shown, what is the result of this Consolidate Agreement on Representation. Collaborationist unions agreed on insignificant wage increases, a further loss of rights, the imposition of new coercive forms of private and corporate supplementary social security, the recognition of the predominance, at the enterprise-level negotiations, of the interests of the company over the interests of workers, even if it contradicts the National Bargaining Agreement, and the sharpening of disciplinary sanctions against workers.
The last agreement between the collaborationist confederated trade unions and the Federation of Industry of February 28th, 2018 represents the final sum of previous abominations and demands their transformation into state law in order to impose them on all workers and independent trade unions in the name of bourgeois lawfulness.
If these provisions become law (in some EU countries they already have), related criminal articles will come into force for their violation, on the basis of which workers could be prosecuted or dismissed without appeal for striking in defense of their rights and interests, and the police, under this pretext, will have the right to consider a class protest as a problem of public order and unleash repression.
Bourgeois governments are trying to disgregate the National Collective Bargaining Agreement, depriving it of force in order to legitimize what they call “flexibility”, that is the lack in job security and workers’ rights protection, thereby asserting the right of capitalists to use living labor power as a real commodity, exploiting or discarding it at their own discretion and convenience. The creativity of labor lawyers, mainly related to social democracy, unleashed in the invention of the worst forms of non-standard contracts: fixed-term, part-time, project-based, on call, individual, etc.. They are increasingly replacing term-less contracts, depriving workers of confidence in the future and establishing starvation wages and brutal working conditions. In addition, the proliferation of non-standard contracts fuels the lie about the growth of employment, which can be easily refuted if the number of hours actually worked is taken into account instead of the number of employment contracts.
Our party included in its electoral program the urgent goal of abolishing the labor market reforms of recent years, demanding the restoration and full application of the letter and the spirit of Act No. 300 of 1970 (a.k.a. Workers’ Charter) and the extension of its effect to all companies and workplaces, regardless of their size. We understand that capital is not going to return anything from what it snatched and stole from the working class in these years, neither economically, nor in normative and regulatory terms. A fierce struggle awaits us, not to retreat and not stand still, but to move forward. The history of the past thirty years once again proves to us that the definitive achievment of the workers’ rights can only be realized outside capitalism, in a socialist society.
The normative and regulatory attack of capital is not limited to the issue of bargaining agreements and relations with trade unions. The anti-communist laws are a cause of concern in some countries of the European Union, where symbols and propaganda of communism are prohibited, in some cases the workers’ parties and class trade unions are outlawed, and Communists are discriminated and persecuted. We express them our internationalist solidarity, in the belief that repressions and bans will never be able to stop the struggle of the Communists for the liberation of the world from the exploitation of man by man.
We must also be extremely vigilant and oppose the attempts, undertaken in some other EU countries, to change the Constitution and laws in an authoritarian direction, to restrict collective and individual rights and to expand the powers of the repressive bodies of the bourgeois state.
These attempts also are aimed at neutralizing the political organizations of the working class and the trade-union, at freezing the class conflict and bringing it under the control of the bourgeoisie.
Anti-communism, which has now become the official ideology of the EU, is an integral part of a massive ideological attack by the bourgeoisie. Falsifying history, bourgeois propaganda denies the great achievements of the workers’ power in the socialist countries, denies the role of the USSR in the liberation of peoples from fascism, denies the contribution of Communists to anti-fascist resistance and puts fascism and communism on the same level. This shameful campaign of disinformation and falsification of history is aimed at depriving the working class of ideological perspectives and revolutionary scientific theory for its ideological disarmament. With this dangerous lie it is necessary to fight mercilessly.
Calls for moderation in the name of the “common interests of the country’s economy”, in the logic of international competition also contain a dangerous ideological poison. It should be clear that there are no and cannot be “common interests” between the opposing classes, between exploited and exploiters. The only sure way of the working class is not the support of national capital in its rivalry with foreign capital, but the proletarian solidarity of all working people in the joint struggle to overthrow capitalism in every country!
Opportunists and social-democrats also run to the aid of the bourgeoisie in its ideological battle against the working class, spreading deceptive lies, as if the impoverishment of the working class and the people were a temporary consequence of the crisis, and capitalism could be corrected and made more humane by simply changing the criteria of its management. In fact, it has been proved that the dramatic living conditions of the proletariat are the result of a massive transfer of wealth from labor to capital, systematically implemented long before the crisis, thanks to a change in the correlation of forces, both nationally and internationally; capitalism is not sick, it is the disease itself, which today not only hinders the development of productive forces, but also destroys them with devastating crises and bloody wars. Capitalism, at its highest stage, cannot be made more humane by reforming its system of governance; it can only — and must – be overthrown.
The struggle on the ideological front is of great importance to preserve the independence of the working class. It is necessary to oppose the spread among the working people of such ideological positions, as reformism, leftism, trotskyism and other anti-Marxist currents that can deviate the struggle towards illusory and false goals. It is also necessary to strike the mood of demoralization, reconciliation and passive acceptance of the allegedly unchangeable status quo. Our ideological struggle should not be abstractly academic, but closely connected with the reality of the class struggle, allowing us to raise the working class from the level of purely economic confrontation to the level of political struggle and to link any claim with the goal of seizing power.
Because of the above, our Party wants to be at the center of the hotbeds of workers’ resistance to capitalist restructuring, trying to turn the fight from defensive to offensive. Our Party is determined to create communist cells in every factory and workplace. Strengthening the party in workplaces and promoting the construction of a militant class-oriented trade union, with the necessary distinction of the roles of the party and the trade union, are issues of strategic
importance to us. Despite the first positive steps taken in the direction of creating a class-oriented union, the process is still long and complicated.
We categorically condemn the course of confederate trade unions and consider their
degeneration to be final and irreversible. Although we recognize the positive role, played by basis trade unions in these years, nevertheless we believe that they have reached their historical limit.
By shifting the fulcrum of the struggle from factories and workplaces to the urban territory, they overshadowed the class nature of the conflict in the name of a generic “social protest,” often exhibiting the manners of a political party.
Our Party is working to create an organization that would unite the most militant and advanced sectors of the current trade union diaspora and gather workers on the basis of defined claims and goals of struggle, regardless of their trade union membership and even in the absence of it. We are not talking about another new union, but about a front to unite, rally and coordinate workers, on the basis of a common platform of struggle, as a prerequisite for the construction of a classoriented union. By this word we mean a trade union, which would consistently and uncompromisingly defend the workers not only in corporate or sectoral disputes, but promoting the interests of the class as a whole, which would not put the workers’ head in the loop of the agreements of recent years, but would not recognize and would not abide by them. The class trade union we want should be member of the World Federation of Trade Unions, choose and carry out a resolutely antimonopoly and anticapitalist course. In addition, he must be able to apply effective methods of struggle, capable of striking the class enemy in the strongest possible way. The use of tougher methods of struggle undoubtedly violates bourgeois legality, but
experience teaches us that such a violation must be systematically practiced despite repression, as long as the rules limiting the rights of the working class become empty and unenforceable because of their non-compliance. The best way to consolidate a right is to practice it!
Aiming at the revitalization and strengthening of class struggle, Communists must be on the forefront in the creation of collective tools of protection and assistance to struggling workers, such as solidarity funds to support workers and their families during indefinite strikes and free legal protection of workers, victims of repression and / or sanctions under the bourgeois laws.
The organized presence of Communists in the working class and in trade unions should be aimed at developing unity and class consciousness, linking the immediate economic and normative claims with the goal of seizing power, politicizing and radicalizing the workers’ struggle, in order to direct it decisively towards the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism, the establishment of the proletarian dictatorship and the building of socialism-communism.