International Communist Party The Union Question

Struggle within the workers’ union in defense of the principles of revolutionary communism

from Il Programma Comunista, issue no 8, April 18, 1964

We publish here the statement with which comrade Settimo Balbi from Trieste justified the impossibility of accepting leadership positions in a mixed body which arose at the end of the III provincial congress of the FIOM on the basis of a platforms of action conflicting with the most fundamental class-based principles and with the action he carried out in the union and in close contact with the workers and their demands and political struggles.

It’s fully in keeping as much with our constant criticism of the policies of the CGIL (and a fortiori of the CISL and UIL, which we regard as avowedly bosses’ organizations) as much as to our general position which not only does not exclude but postulates the conquest and exercise of the leadership of the workers’ union as long as they are the fruit of propaganda and battle action carried out in its ranks and having as its effect the declared adherence of a current of proletarians to the principles of working-class struggle which we advocate, never the result of combinations, maneuvers and bargains which these principles would distort, in the eyes of the workers themselves:

«The “concluding motion” presented by the FIOM at the III Provincial Congress in Trieste represents a programmatic platform irreconcilable with the nature and aims of the union of class.

«A trade union organization has the task of unifying the scattered forces of the workers in the struggle in defense of their immediate interests against Capital, and with a view to that general political struggle which the proletariat will inevitably have to wage, under the leadership of the revolutionary political party, for the overthrow of bourgeois power and the establishment of the communist dictatorship.

«All the points of the FIOM’s concluding motion at the provincial congress contradict this end, which moreover reflects the general political approach taken today by the General Confederation of Labor.

«(1) The perspective of a final and violent struggle for the overthrow of capitalist power and thus of its State is here substituted by the thoroughly reformist and social-democratic perspective of the “decisive participation and contribution of the workers” to so-called governmental planning,

«(2) Proletarian interests and their defense are replaced by the “interests of the country” (thus of Capital ruling the country, in democratic mask no less than in fascist mask) or even of the city,

«(3) The grand vision of the revolutionary transformation of society in the name of the proletariat and in the interest of a humanity finally freed from the yoke of class divisions is replaced by a miserable and lazy “reforms necessary for our country” (for why not just add “of the beloved Fatherland”?),

«(4) On the strictly trade-union level, the motion doesn’t, even only vaguely, mention the two cardinal problems of the radical increase of the wage-base and the radical decrease of the work-day, while it calls for “bargaining” or “regulation” of those production bonuses, piecework, incentives, divisions by qualifications increasingly spaced apart from each other, which the union should instead always propose to abolish,

«(5) It puts at the center of all issues the recognition of company bargaining, which separates the workers of one production complex from those of another, creates economic differentiations in the same category, binds the proletarians to the company jail cell in which their lives are consumed,

«(6) Reverses the principle that the interests of workers are united above any separation into companies, sectors, qualifications and must be defended on a general and unified scale, going from the union of the whole category to the company, not from the company section to the union,

«(7) It thus favors that tactic of bargaining, or rather breaking up, the proletarian struggles, to which are the cause not of the vaunted successes of the workers, but their very real and unsuccessful failures well represented by a contract that cannot even be enforced, even recognized, after long and often violent battles,

«(8) It champions State industries and protects them, as if the State were not, as long as the capitalist system is in force, the “executive committee of the bourgeoisie”, and as if it hasn’t given ample proof of this in the way it treats workers, entirely the same as in private enterprises,

«(9) Finally, for the height of bastardization, it advocates “the formation of a white-collar union within the FIOM”, when a century of workers’ struggles, glorious and often bloody, teaches that the white-collar categories either fight together with the workers and within the framework and under the discipline of a single workers’ organization, or they drift away by allowing themselves to be carried away by the current of petty-bourgeois prejudices, or they even become the saboteurs and scabs of proletarian action. The task of the class union is to inspire in the workers the sense and consciousness that their interests can be defended only within the framework of defending the interests of all those exploited by capital, it is never to isolate them in an autonomous and competing organization.

«As can be seen, it’s not a question here of differences of detail, but of irreconcilable contrasts of principle: it’s either this or that side of the barricade, a barricade that the “concluding motion” has the merit of having unscrupulously and unabashedly brought up.

«Being unable to share the responsibility for the execution of such a political line and its propaganda among the workers and convinced that that line is against the real interests of the workers, I am also in the impossibility of accepting union leadership positions, which I will instead take up with enthusiasm the day a group of workers, consciously siding with the political and demands-based platform of the International Communist Party that I propagated in the union, will give their full support to it, inspired not by personal sympathies or momentary considerations, but by mature conviction, and in direct contrast to the policy described above.

«Long live Spartaco! Long live the International Communist Party!»

Our outlook and line thus remain: struggle within the workers’ union in defense of the principles of revolutionary communism and with a view to the formation of a current of proletarians aligned on them; conquest of the levers of command as soon as the balance of power allows such a current to assert itself on an unequivocal platform and in the firmest adherence to Marxist postulates.