Notes on the seminar/conference on

"Precarizzazione del lavoro e diritti dei lavoratori e delle lavoratrici"

held in Bologna, 30 November and 1 December 1996.

Diego Negri -- Committee for the Defence of Casual Workers' Rights

[translated from di Base 3 (1997)]

On 30 November and 1 December the conference seminar on "Casualisation of labour and workers' rights" was held in Bologna. There was a massive participation of between 150 and 200 people during the debates, with thirty circles and organisations present. The assembly was composed of comrades from the Social Centres, the Cobas and rank-and-file unions (SLAI-COBAS, RDB-CUB, CNCobas), and specific committees of casualised and unemployed workers. Politically it could be defined as a meeting of socially precarious militants.

The length of the various reports did not facilitate debate (the Casuals Committee of Bologna will supply the written reports and tape recording to those who request them). The immediate fact arising out of the reports was the extreme difficulty of defining "legal" rights for casualised workers and the relative mass casualisation presently encompassing the world of labour. Many comrades saw this meeting not so much as a place for mutual encounter between groupings working in the realm of casualised work, as one in which to raise a more global dimension, insisting upon the notion of a society made increasingly precarious. If on the one hand this meant that the conference was less nitty-gritty and sector-specific, it prompted many comrades to speak of everything (the repression of the seventies, the phase of capital, the role of communists in the class struggle). There was also a section dedicated to the debate over no-profit activities, spelling out the ideological and practical limits of this model which some have held up as an alternative and progressive solution to capitalist degradation.

The establishment of an Internet site concerning precarious workers was proposed by the Casuals Committee of Bologna, along with a press agency to link the various experiences working amongst precarious workers. For us a linkage between the situations of struggle is indispensable, although we do not think it opportune to create a separate "sector" union structure for casuals.

There was also the proposal of a French comrade of the Organisation Communiste Libertaire regarding an alternative contingent for the upcoming marches against unemployment around Europe. In France various organisations have set up the JAC (Initiative for an alternative to capitalism) which will participate in the marches with its own slogans. The contents of this coordinating body aim to be anti-capitalist, revolutionary and rupturing, speaking of the critique and struggle against productivism. The JAC network was formed by various French groups (the OCL, NO-pasaran, Reflex, pro-Chiapas collectives, local groups of the Anarchist Federation and the French CNT, collectives of workers, independent groups of the extreme left, collectives of casual and unemployed workers and libertarian autonomist groups) which had previously set up the anti-G7 groups (GAG) that had organised a contingent at the demonstrations against the G7 in Lyon earlier in 1996.

The upshot of the conference was good, seeing as a few months ago a Casuals Committee didn't even exist in Bologna. The high number of participants and reports augurs well. Political work amongst precarious workers must however centre itself largely around struggles if it wants to extend the network of collectives which move on this terrain. A grassroots work amongst precarious subjects, one freed from the logic of union allegiances and reproducing the necessity of organising around needs as the unifying element, is indispensable!

The Bologna Committee for the Defence of Casual Workers' Rights can contacted at Via Avesella 5/A, where we meet each Tuesday at 9:30PM. The Committee produces a local journal called Precari-Nati -- contact us for a copy.

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