13 February, 2019Hundreds of thousands of people participated in a rally organized by trade union federations in Rome, Italy, on 9 February in protest against the government’s austerity policies.
Rome’s San Giovanni square was full of workers, pensioners and families from all over Italy, many held union flags and banners. Many came to Rome in 12 trains, approximately 1,300 buses and two ships. They joined together to demonstrate their unity and reiterate the values expressed in a united platform called Piattaforma.
That platform is a set of joint union proposals demanding that the government makes changes to current policies and starts a serious and respectful discussion about the future of the country.
“CGIL, CISL and UIL continue to strongly affirm the necessity for development of the country to be reinforced by expansive policies, and agree that it is necessary to overcome the austerity policies which, in both Italy and in Europe, have led to deep inequality, increased poverty, and growth of unemployment, in particular among youth and women,” reads the document.
IndustriALL Global Union’s Italian affiliates are paying the price for the lack of political will of the government to adopt economic and political measures aimed to boost the economy.
So far, the government is planning no measures to increase public and private investment in industry in Italy, which will certainly not encourage employment growth. On the contrary, some of the laws adopted by the government would have an opposite effect. For instance, in the energy sector, unions are currently fighting against a recent law which prevent companies from searching for and exploiting new oil and gas fields. The legislation may lead to the loss of more than 15,000 jobs and make Italy energetically dependent on other countries.
Unions’ demands focus on development, growth and employment through public investment, which in turn attracts private investment and would promote a new structure of production. The state must initiate fiscal reform, removing excessive charges from salaries and pensions, and fight tax evasion, in order to create a fairer system, say unions.
Other demands include development of a social safety net, considering the needs of enterprises completing their restructuring or finding their way out of market crises; modification of the system of social security and welfare through reinforcement of pensions, social politics, fight against poverty, and improved healthcare.
Improvement and reforming of the system of professional education and workers retraining programs need to be in place. Finally, the unions called on the government to invest in public administration, which as a linkage between citizens, enterprises and services is a fundamental tool to accompany politics of growth and development of the country.
According to the Italian National Institute of Statistics Istat, the unemployment rate in Italy reached a record high of 10.6 per cent in 2018, this is third highest in Europe after Greece and Spain. Although there was a decrease from 2017 by 0.7 per cent, it is still far from 6.1 per cent unemployment in 2007. The young generation workers suffer the most with youth unemployment reaching 32.1 percent average in 2018.