50,000 anti-debt campaigners, opponents of Italy’s controversial high-speed train project and an array of other civil society opponents of the Mario Monti government marched Saturday on the symbol of Italian capitalism, the Milan bourse known as Piazza Affari.
The protestors included the smaller radical Cobas unions, left wing activists and trade unionists like Giorgio Cremaschi, a senior figure in the metalworkers union FIOM.
‘I am ashamed when Monti boasts abroad that he has introduced brutal social reforms without any real opposition,’ said Cremaschi ahead of Saturday’s event, dubbed ‘Occupy Piazza Affari’.
‘It won’t be a political event but an open assembly that will distill all the themes that are undermining our serenity in the future and we hope we can mobilise all those who don’t want to pay the price of decisions in which they played no role.’
Among the participants were workers from factories and workplaces that have closed, are faced with closure or risk losing their jobs, from transport and logistics firm Argol, train maintenance company Wagon-Lits, the Alcoa aluminium plant in Sardinia, shipbuilder Fincantieri and carmaker Fiat, as well as migrant workers.
The protest was against the ‘social butchery’ of the Monti government, said Cremaschi, starting with the labour reforms and failure to the tackle burgeoning precarious forms of working in the country. It also took aim at the government support for banks, or as Cremaschi put it, ‘speculators who have created the country’s debt mountain… and against the repression that tries to stop and divide the popular movement that opposes spreading precarity, mass unemployment, environmental devastation and the continuous chipping away at rights.’
‘We must relaunch a social and political opposition that aims for a different social and economic model based on ‘common goods’ and that guarantees rights: health, education, dignified work, housing, an income for all, freedom and full democracy for all Italians and migrants,’ stated the organisers.
The protest follows a growing revolt against the government of technocrat Monti.
Strikes have been held almost daily in different parts of the country over the past two weeks.The CGIL is planning a national stoppage and so is the engineering section of the Uil union confederation.
The reforms have also caused rifts in the center-left Democratic Party, his second-biggest parliamentary backer, destabilizing the alliance on which he depends to govern.
Most Italians are unconvinced Monti’s assertions that a reform making it easier to fire people will create jobs or be fairer. A recent poll found 67 percent of people opposed the measure.
The same poll showed Monti’s support falling to 44 percent from 62 percent in early March.