In the dispute against the dismissal of temporary workers who had been working for years in the TNT Peschiera Borromeo plant (near Milan), on Thursday July 9 FedEx/TNT, summoned at the Milan Prefecture for a mediation, made an offer that couldn’t be accepted by workers and SI Cobas, their union: 15 workers hired from … January 1st, 2021 (when any excuse connected to the crisis might cancel the offer). And the exclusion from this number of workers who had received disciplinary letters, mostly cooked up on fake grounds in the weeks of strikes.
SI COBAS counter-proposed hiring in September, and seniority as the criterion to be followed; FedEx refused flatly… They had prepared for the inevitable strike in the evening: moving much of the work from Peschiera, where there is an important presence of Si Cobas, to San Giuliano, where the workers, mostly precarious, are not unionized, and hiring about forty vigilantes, its own private police, to attack the strike picket.
When part of the picket in Peschiera, with dismissed workers and solidarity supporters moved in front of the San Giuliano warehouse, they were attacked by these “private guards” who shoved the way to the trucks, under the benevolent eyes of the police patrol, who, instead of stopping them, had evidently encouraged them to attack.
Having lost the open support of the State, which in two previous strikes had sent more than a hundred policemen to evacuate and attack the strikers, FedEx is introducing in Italy the methods used during the late 19th and early 20th century strikes by the American capitalists, who “hired the Pinkerton Agency to infiltrate unions, supply guards, keep strikers and suspected unionists out of factories, and recruit goon squads to intimidate workers”. Here too, with the connivance of state powers.
Is this the future of union relations in Italy?
The violent police assault of 9 June was a boomerang because it led to the extension of support for the fight against dismissals, and to its becoming a political issue. The use of gorillas hired by the American boss will also turn out to be a boomerang if the answer is to widen the support to dismissed workers and the fight against precarization.
All the workers at the FedEx/TNT warehouses in Piacenza, Brescia, Bologna have also struck throughout the night, especially because they perceived that the attack is not limited to Peschiera Borromeo, but it affects the entire FedEx/TNT chain, with a plan for restructuring and reorganizing warehouses at the national level. FedEx has paid a heavy cost for its intransigence. In Bologna, moreover, 36 Covid-19 positive workers were found, because of the lack of adequate safety measures: opposing the company that wanted to go on working, SI Cobas demanded shutting down the warehouse for sanitization – which the local health authority finally ordered.
The fight against TNT is not only about 66 dismissed workers, to whom TNT is offering money in order to get rid of unionized workers. It is about the restructuring of the group, which wants to strengthen the international distribution of goods and increase what it calls employment “flexibility” and which actually means precariousness, with fixed-term and especially temporary jobs, an ideal formula to break the union presence by subjecting workers to continuous blackmail. In the U.S., FedEx used these methods to prevent the union from organizing its 250,000 workers in hundreds of warehouses. Where they were organizing, it fired the organizers on disciplinary pretexts invented to terrorize everybody. This line must be defeated in Italy. And the fight is not only about FedEx/TNT. Its competitors in Italy DHL, GLS, SDA, BRT, etc. are looking at the TNT dispute and are ready to follow FedEx’s anti-union policy and industry restructuring, if it is successful.
It would mean the re-precarization of the logistics industry after more than a decade of struggles which, in the most concentrated groups, have raised workers from semi-slavery to respect, from starvation to decent wages, and where they are still struggling to improve working conditions and safety.
The bosses would like to put out the fire of the sector that in this decade has kept the torch of the struggle burning and has won important improvements, to prevent it from spreading to other sectors, which the crisis will set in motion in the coming months.
This is why last night’s provocation by FedEx must not go unanswered, a firm and broad response must come from the entire movement that in recent months has not accepted that health be sacrificed to profits, that does not accept that precariousness become the standard for labor, that does not accept the subjugation of labor to the interests of capital. This is why this movement has joined in an Action Pact for an anti-capitalist united front, which has allowed a broad front of solidarity forces to come together. In Milan and Piacenza there were hundreds of people on every picket line, which means a force on the ground capable of resisting the repression unleashed by the bosses.
Action Pact for an anti-capitalist united front
Indonesian version (Versi Bahasa Indonesia): FedEx/TNT Pecat Pekerja, Pekerjakan Pengacau Pemogokan
Sent July 16th, 2020