Italian logistics workers struggle for pay and dignity

Italian logistics workers struggle for pay and dignity

Italian logistics workers protest in Bergamo. Photo: Communist Youth Front

Logistics workers across Italy are continuing their fight for decent wages and rights. On Saturday, December 24, workers of the Lameva Societa’ Cooperativa, the freight moving service working for the Esselunga retail store chains and transport and warehousing company Italtrans in the Northern Italian city of Bergamo, continued their protests demanding a decent hike in wages, safety in work, and an effective performance review that acknowledges their exhausting schedules.

According to reports, one of the protesting workers was fired by the Lameva Societa’ Cooperativa and in the last week, security forces attacked the workers’ protest at the Italtrans hub in Bergamo, sparking massive outrage from the workers and trade unions. The Unione Sindacale di Base (USB Italia) union, which is leading the fight in Bergamo, said “At a time of wage and income crisis, the workers and unions have to fight against exploitation, for a decent wage and human and healthy working conditions.”

Earlier on December 21, under the leadership of the USB, the workers in Piacenza protested the actions of the logistics giants BRT and Geodis which are being investigated by the Milan judiciary for evading taxes. The workers alleged that BRT and Geodis have stopped paying their employees salaries and benefits by citing the fact that magistrates have seized the bank accounts of contractors and service providers as part of the investigation into tax evasion and other financial crimes.

The USB branch in logistics, noting the non-payment of salaries and benefits, said that the workers were paying the taxes that the owners had evaded and were also left without pay.

Workers in the logistics sector have organized mobilizations in defense of jobs and workers’ rights in various warehouses and units of logistics giants across Italy under the leadership of unions like USB and Si Cobas. On July 19, eight trade unionists were apprehended by the police on the orders of the Piacenza Prosecutor’s Office for organizing strikes and unionizing in logistics warehouses sparking widespread protests. In April this year, the national gendarmerie of Italy, the Carabinieri, raided the national headquarters of USB, allegedly in search of weapons. The raid took place in the aftermath of protests organized by USB against the use of Italian ports and airstrips to dispatch arms and ammunition for use in imperialist wars.

On December 24, Giuliano Granato from Potere Popolo told Peoples Dispatch, “Over the past few years, we have seen workers in logistics organizing themselves and winning. It’s something unusual in Italy: they got higher wages, better conditions, full respect of working contracts. That’s one of the reason entrepreneurs, rightwing parties and the state apparatus have organized a struggle in order to win back their power. In the sector, it’s not just matter of economical conditions but of political power that is shifting toward workers, which is different from other sectors.”

The Communist Youth Front (FGC) has protested the firing of striking workers and police repression. FGC has extended full support and solidarity to the logistics workers’ protest and stated that “In the face of the growing repression, we need to respond compactly. Let’s join forces, organize the counter attack.”

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