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Fascism in the workplace
italy / switzerland | workplace struggles | opinion / analysis Friday April 22, 2011 20:06 by Commissione Sindacale FdCA - Federazione dei Comunisti Anarchici internazionale at fdca dot it
"The company is a war machine, its workers are the soldiers"
It was struggle by the workers which created the social bonds we have enjoyed to date, including the welfare state, through collective bargaining and rights which could be enforced. But today's deterioration in democracy is becoming all too plain to see - authoritarianism is spreading throughout society. [Italiano]
25 April 2011: Fascism in the workplace
"The company is a war machine, its workers are the soldiers". This definition comes from a speech given by Sergio Marchionne, CEO of FIAT, and makes clear once and for all that today's liberalist policies are based on the logic of the "total" company and are guiding the current management of the company.
Workers are used against each other by means of competition: workers in one company against those in another, either in the same place or at a distance of of one to ten thousand kilometres away. If a product is to be competitive and continue to be profitable it must always cost less, so the extraction of surplus value from each worker must always increase.
Thus competition spreads onto the terrain of wages - which continue to drop, of work hours - which continue to rise, and of rights - which are detracted, or better still, eliminated - because rights cost money and make a company ungovernable.
There is no need to underline that workers are increasingly open to blackmail with the excuse of the crisis or the particular needs of the bosses in this particular phase.
So how have they been able and what have they done to be able to achieve this repeatedly-stated objective, that is to say that the workers must not only be blackmailable but also blindly obey commands, subjected to the most absolute control?
The answer is a two-pronged attack:
The workers organize themselves through their union representatives and can take strike action (applying their right to do so), only now they can't, since the rules - established by the company - are now laid out in a "new-style contract", endorsed by compliant unions and applied to each single worker who must endorse the agreement when he or she is taken on. And, as in the case of FIAT, all employees are re-hired by a Newco and all have to sign up to these conditions.
Naturally, if your union does not endorse that agreement, it is expelled from the company - in other words it can no longer represent you: it has no power to act, its delegates can no longer do union work during work hours and the company stops paying union dues.
But can't workers still join together in protest, even without a union? No. Because now they make you sign a "joint responsibility clause", complete with sanctions for non-observance. In other words, you will be disciplined - you cannot damage the company's interests (strikes, for example, cause a drop in production) and you run the risk of being fired.
Collective bargaining is a social bond which recognizes that the interests of the workers are non-compatible and non-subordinate to those of capital. But collective bargaining has been eliminted.
And as if this weren't enough, then there's the law. For example, the latest piece of labour legislation (Law 183/2010, known as the "collegato lavoro") and all the other modifications to labour law made over recent years, not to mention those yet to come which, amongst a hundred other things, place even more restrictions on the right to strike.
It all has a very authoritarian slant. And if this is what's happening in industry, think what could happen to society as a whole?
It was struggle by the workers which created the social bonds we have enjoyed to date, including the welfare state, through collective bargaining and rights which could be enforced. But today's deterioration in democracy is becoming all too plain to see - authoritarianism is spreading throughout society.
The Labour Charter of 1927 provided the foundation for the corporative Fascist State. And it makes an interesting read today - even more so as it rings so familiar... all it takes is to swap some terms and swathes of the document can be seen to be in force again today!
Marchionne, and many other bosses too, has stated that the class war is over. It's up to all of us to show him it isn't!
Federazione dei Comunisti Anarchici20 April 2011
1. TMC-2 ("times and movements connected") is an updated version of a system brought in the 1970's, and serves to determine the time needed for each single operation and, by simplifying the number of movements required by the use of theoretical tables, cutting the allotted time for each worker to perform each single operation, down to the hundredth of a second. It was responsible for an increase of 25% in production at the Piaggio motorbike factory in Tuscany when introduced there.
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