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XX Congress of USI

From Friday March 23 - Sunday March 25, 2012, the XX national congress of the Italian Syndicalist Union, USI-AIT took place near the self-managed space „Free Factory” in Modena. Dozens of delegates took part. They represented sections from Modena, Bologna, Trieste, Parma, Reggio-Emilia, Florence, Livorno, San Vicenzo, Trento, Ancona, Brescia, Carrara and Sarno.

International greetings were given from the Secretariat of the IWA by Rolf-Petter Larson (Secretary of the IWA) and Einar Nyomen. The Free Workers' Union from Germany (FAU) also gave greetings and wishes for successful work from the comrades present, Lars Rohm and Julia. The work of the congress, as always, was highly intensive, broad and open for discussion.

The Congress unanimously adopted a series of statements and resolutions, which are printed below.

Statement on the call to demonstrate in Novara

¨Тhe comrades from the USI-AIT, gathered in Modena, in order to hold its ХХ congress and to celebrate its centenary, sends its solidarity greetings to all who yesterday, today and, we are convinced, tomorrow, will be committed to the antimilitarist struggle and in particular, the struggle against the purchasing of F35 fighter aircraft. We express our closeness with all the comrades who are going to demonstrate today and we support future initiatives.
We also send a solidarity greeting to comrades participating in the struggle against the destruction of the environment and the military occupation, with the suspension of all rights in the name of the profits of capital, as in the case of the highway in Val di Susa.¨

Resolution №1. On the self-managed Ateneo of anarcho-syndicalist training
¨The Congress confirms the formation of the ¨Self-Managed Ateno of anarcho-syndicalist training¨ with its center of coordination in Milan. Each section and branch should give instructions to prepare one or two personal candidates by the end of April in order to hold the first national meeting at the end of May.

This meeting – in the form of a seminar – will be dedicated to a critical study of pension and labor reform (developed by the present government and the minister Fornero) and it will take place in Milan ¨.

Resolution №2. Discussion about the social-economic situation, the participation of organizations in protests and the self-managed perspectic in response to the social-economic situation

¨Taking into account that the crisis of the capitalism and the state are irreversible and that the tendency is leading to the inevitable destruction of the planey and that the only answer it offeres its death, hunger and deprivation, the ХХ Congres of USI-AIT (Моdena, 23 – 25 March 2012) declares that the Italian ruling classes, in accordance with and at the request of the international ruling classes, gave birth to the ¨worst possible government¨, which interprets and implements the capitalist ideology, bringing it to the extreme liberal position. The extension of the retirement age, encroachments on the income of pensioners and workers, higher taxes only on the poorest layers of society, the increase in the cost of living, the continued privatization of public goods and services, imposing instability on instability – these are only some of the most obvious consequences. The severe offensive carried out through the new pension ¨model 11¨ and the reform of article 18 of law 300/70 (Workers' Statute) on the part of the government and the parliament, serves as a symbol of what kind of trade union relationships the ruling classes would like to have: none. These reforms and actions are only a poor disguise for what is the real goal of the neoliberal maneouvres: to make more serious cuts in pay, seen as the only variable they can have influence over after the adoption of the Euro, which made it impossible to use classic means in conditions of economic crisis – monetary inflation.

The goals which our union intends to pursue to get out of the dead-end of the neoliberal plan are:

– A breakthrough on wage freezes;

– Adopting structural measures against the growth of the cost of living, for example a return to such forms as wage indexation (as it was during the so-called ¨sliding scale”);

- A general cut in working hours while maintaining the same wages;

– A struggle to a victorious end against precarity by changing contracts and simultaneously liquidating all forms of non-standard employment. These strategic objectives will be realized by joining public services workers and the users of these services. The funds necessary for this will be obtained by cutting military expenses and expenditure on unnecessary, unwanted and harmful «major projects». We consider that in questions of employment it is necessary to reject the logic of exchange, reducing the use of integration funds and increasing unemployment benefits;

– USI considers that new subjects of social conflicts must appear, the subject of the self-organized unemployed, precarious workers and immigrant workers in order that they can deploy their forces to achieve their demands for the right to work and can rebel against the institutions at all levels;

– We consider it absolutely necessary to develop social activity in connection with actions to achieve demands, using direct action, including the use of reappropriation. It also requires the development of useful projects and not harmful work, aimed at development in accordance with the criteria of social needs and interests. In addition to these intermediary goals, USI intends to oppose the state by forming a society based on self-management and the values of solidarity.

Therefore USI is a union which is for the liberation of the exploited. We consider self-management to be the main instrument to achieve this, by a complex development and actions of the Union and in the daily life of the trade union. We understand any manifestation of the ideas of solidarity and responsible self-government as the basis of social action to fall under this project. In perspective, the society which we want. In this sense, the project cannot exist in isolation from practice, otherwise this would be just an ideology.

Union life should be guided by the principles of self-management, that is the firect and responsible participation of members and supporters in union life. We understand this as:

а) activity in the workplace, opposition to the bosses and in propaganda in amongst colleagues and other unions, carried out in accordance with the responsibilities and competencies defined in our statutes;

b) activity both in the internal relations of national and local structures and between national and local structures:

1) the general meeting is sovreign (meetings of members of the local section, delegates of the National commission of delegates or responsible members of a statutory organ), within its competencies, in order to develop and regulate union life at all levels;

2) nobody can act individually in his or her own name without having a clear and valid mandate from a general meeting, competent in this sphere of activity. For example, the national secretatary cannot name delegates or representatives of the Union on his or her own initiative, but only after consultation and approval of the Sections at a national committee of delegates or correspondence consultations, whose legitimacy is recognized unanimously;

3) avoid concentration of tasks in one section or in the hands of one person;

c) active spreading of knowledge about the union amongst the exploited and establishing roots among them – by giving out leaflets, having public meetings on concrete topics, manifestations, exhibitions, parties and festivals for socializing and self-financing, for the use of the union or its publications and to experiment in the sphere of self-managed labour, markets, crafts and non-commerical services to the public;

d) to develop activity in the sphere of self-managed labour

In all of these aspects we consider that self-management is a necessary common denominator, the correspondence between our principles and actions, a way to avoid disintegrating internal conflicts, guarantee the union the possibility to grow in the direction of serious and consistane ideals and, above all, unite the exploited in a structure in which they can feel like active and significant participants ”.

Resolution №3. Analysis of the trade union movement and the role of anarcho-syndicalism

”The Congress notes the deep crisis which runs through the historical experience of the union movement which is an alternative to the relations of the conciliatory model expressed by CGIL, CISL, UIL and UGL. This crisis manifests itself in the degradation towards a hierarchical and ideologized model that mimics the party secretariats of the ХХ сentury.

The Congress notes and stresses the relevance and specific nature of anarchosyndicalism as a powerful and successful expression of the model of opposition to the State and Capital. The Congress gives its mandate of the new executive organs to explore the opportunity to begin a process which, under the circumstances, would lead to joint initiatives in the trade union and social panorama that could share with us our own fight for our goals and strategy.
Such initiatives, without any vertical agreements and in the course of exploring the social movements on an economic basis, arising from the proletarization of the social structure, would have the goal of declating a national general strike if it is possible and the real expression of the will of the working class. The goal of this process is to create a synergy with these movements in order to spread the consensus around the themes raised by USI-AIT.
Together with this, the congress confirms the necessity to act in all concrete real situations in which daily work goes on, to have an effective education campaign and to expose the lies of the enslaved media, regarding the real meaning and dramatic consequences of the maneouvres which are effecting the most vulnerable layers of society.
We again confirm the the complicity of the comprising trade union movement, including FIOM-CGIL, which plays a key role in creating the current state of affairs”.