Italy’s radical metalworkers’ union FIOM struck on 14 November, sharpening and deepening conflict with the goverment of Matteo Renzi over workers’ rights and protections.
It followed a million-strong demonstration in Rome on 25 October, called by the CGIL union confederation.
The strike also testified to the emergence of jointly-oordinated action by FIOM union and a number of the smaller and more radical BASE unions, especially in the public sector, and with a broadening spectrum of campaigns and movements embracing the unemployed, migrant workers, the "precariat", Social Centres , students , etc.
In 25 cities, workplaces and large sectors of the transport system were seriously disrupted; and a rash of mass demonstrations, sit-ins, sit-downs, and symbolic occupations underlined the anger.
The organised heart and strength of the day’s action was in Milan, where FIOM leader Maurizio Landini and CGIL top Susanna Camusso addressed 80,000 workers in the city’s main square.
Earlier in the week Camusso had declared an all-out one-day general strike by CGIL on 5 December. Camusso and Landini assumed an air of rhetorical aggression against Renzi.
Renzi had persuaded the gutless "left" of his Democratic Party to abandon their opposition to his measures, but Landini denounced that as "taking the piss out of the workers of the country by a collection of people only concerned with preserving their comfortable and secure jobs".
Camusso declared that "no vote of confidence by any parliament will alter by a millimetre our direction or our iniative to reject these measures".
The national scenario is still of dark foreboding. Racism and the racist or neofascist Northern League steadily advance everwhere, as illustrated in the Roman suburb of Tor Sapienza, where in mid-November a building housing migrants was pelted with stones for three consecutive nights.
But the clash between the trade unions and the goverment is increasingly becoming the focal point of all the anger, frustration, and despair of millions.
Already thousands of call centre workers across the country have announced they will strike on 21 November, the second day of the FIOM-led action.
The task for revolutionaries could not be be more imperative — propaganda and agitation for the necessity to forge the most massive democratic working-class led force with the aim not just of going beyond the compromising leaders and defeating Renzi on this front but of going for an all-out general strike and for a goverment of the working masses which poses concretely the question: who rules? Them or us?