Six union leaders were placed under house arrest in Piacenza, Italy, in the early morning hours of July 19, under orders from the local prosecutor’s office. Two are members of USB (Unione Sindacale di Base), and four belong to SI Cobas, two militant unions that represent workers in the logistics sector and have waged strikes recently against Amazon, FedEx and others. The six are charged with conspiracy to commit private violence, resistance to a public official, sabotage and interruption of public service.
According to SI Cobas, “this accusation allegedly stemmed from strikes conducted in Piacenza’s logistics warehouses from 2014 to 2021. According to prosecutors, these strikes were carried out with specious motives and with ‘extortionist’ intent, in order to obtain better conditions for workers than those provided by the national contract.” (sicobas.org, July 21)
“The advance of the capitalist crisis, and the growing social malaise following the war economy and the high cost of living, produce an ever more stringent offensive against the workers and in particular against the trade union and social avant-gardes of struggle,” said USB. (news.italy-24.com)
Immediately the two unions called for protests, including sit-ins at government offices, marches and solidarity strikes in the logistics sector. Unions in numerous Italian cities heeded the call.
The USB is affiliated with the World Federation of Trade Unions, whose affiliates around the world, along with the WFTU central office in Athens, Greece, have condemned the anti-union repression. Unions in Indonesia, Argentina, Palestine, Greece, Cyprus, Russia, the Spanish state and India have sent messages of solidarity to USB and SI Cobas, demanding the charges be dropped.