The headquarters in central Rome of the Italian General Confederation of Labor (CGIL), the country’s main union, is guarded by three police vans, a dozen officers and some 30 militants who spend the afternoon guarding the entrance. There is still some concern. Some blinds are still broken after last Saturday’s assault by a mob led by a fascist organization. Forza Nuova, a small party led by terrorists and criminals, took advantage of the anti-vaccine demonstration in Piazza del Popolo to wreak havoc in the city. First they tried with the headquarters of the Executive. Then they went for the union one. They entered and razed it.
This Friday afternoon there was no trace of the damage. The wounds and the worst kicks were taken by the Italian Constitution, decidedly anti-fascist and prepared to protect itself from these attacks. Maurizio Landini (Castelnovo ne ‘Monti, 60 years old), secretary general of the CGIL, receives MRT in his office and does not hesitate to ask the Executive of Mario Draghi to ban all these parties. The union has called for today a massive demonstration under the slogan “Never again fascism.” But the right has decided not to go.
Question. How did you find out what happened on Saturday?
Answer. I was far away, I live 450 kilometers from Rome. They called me to tell me that they were raiding the CGIL, but I didn’t understand. Then the first thing that became clear is that it was an attack squadron organized fascist. It had nothing to do with the vaccination certificate that was being protested. A problem was being exploited. It was not just an attack on the CGIL. In 1921, fascism began by burning and destroying the union headquarters. And what they did the other day was an attempt to delegitimize our role, to indicate to the world of work that we have sold out and are no longer useful. You had to respond quickly.
R. We spoke with the other unions and in a few minutes we decided that it was necessary to call today’s demonstration with a precise slogan: “Never again fascism.” But at the same time, be aware that work and democracy must be put at the center of the discussion to respond to social unrest, because working conditions with the pandemic have worsened.
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P. Is fascism still alive in Italy? Forza Nuova, the assailant organization, is a really residual party …
R. Fascism is not just an Italian problem, it happens all over Europe. No one has achieved that much in other places, but the episodes of groups invoking fascism are multiplying. That is why the horizon must be broadened and today the secretary of the European trade union confederation will also be present. I thank the Spanish unions for their solidarity.
P. Do you remember something similar?
R. Only 100 years ago when fascism started and moved to the March on Rome.
P. Should they be outlawed?
R. We have asked the Government to issue a decree applying the laws that we have. Our Constitution prohibits the reconstruction of the Fascist Party and condemns the apology of fascism. The organizers of that action have been arrested. But action must be taken to protect democratic principles.
P. Why do you think the right, especially the Brothers of Italy and La Liga, are reluctant to call him by his name?
R. Each one has to make accounts with history and not make mistakes like those of 100 years ago. The situation is not the same. But do not underestimate the unrest in society and in the world of work. The pandemic has accelerated it. In the elections [locales] 15 days ago 50% voted, and that should make us reflect. The number of people who do not feel represented is increasing. And there they find space for forces that instrumentalize discomfort.
P. Giorgia Meloni, leader of the Brothers of Italy, wondered where the matrix of that attack was. Do you think that some parties have not completely broken with a fascist past?
R. The matrix is very clear and it is necessary to make accounts to the bottom with the history of our country. Deleting it is a fundamental and unacceptable mistake. It is time for each one to make up their own minds and make the appropriate decisions. If someone is not in a position to do it, I feel bad, but that is what Italy needs.
“If the right does not demonstrate against fascism it will make a mistake”
P. Why isn’t the right going to a demonstration against fascism?
R. If you don’t come, you will make a big mistake. This demonstration is not against anyone, but in favor of democracy and in support of the Constitution. Saying “never again to fascism” affirms the value of our Constitution. Such a goal should be shared by anyone. If someone decides not to be, they should reflect.
P. It is one day before the second round of the municipal elections. Isn’t the day of reflection violated?
R. Whoever destroyed our headquarters, did they wait for elections or did they simply destroy it? Did we have to wait for the vote or mobilize immediately? We are not going to give voting indications. It is time to unite this country, not divide it.
P. The origin of the protests last Saturday was the mandatory vaccination certificate for work. Do you think that safe conduct damages the rights of workers?
R. We asked that a law be made to make the vaccine mandatory. The Constitution provides for it and we are convinced that the vaccine is the way. But the Executive did not assume it due to internal divisions and they chose the certificate, which is not exactly an obligation.
“The relationship with Draghi has to adjust and listen to us more”
P. But do you understand protests and strikes like the one in the port of Trieste?
R. There is an agreement for the company to pay for the tests of those who do not want to be vaccinated. Whoever has called the strike does not represent the position of the majority unions. The right to work has been protected.
P. In the world of work it generates controversy. Do you think that in the protest last Saturday there could have been members of your union?
R. I do not know. But there is clearly a debate. In Italy there are six million people who have not been vaccinated. They are not all anti-vaccines and to say it is not to know the problems of the people. That said, everyone has the right to demonstrate. But those who stormed our headquarters were fascists and used a malaise that exists in the world of work and that we do not hide.
P. The Draghi Government manages the largest amount of public money in history. Has it implicated them?
R. Too little. We represent millions of people and we are independent from parties and companies.
P. How is the dialogue with Draghi? Do you listen to their requests?
R. It is a relationship that has to be adjusted. At the beginning, it involved the social agents a lot; Today there are some decisions that we do not share and others that we ask to take another direction. But the judgment will be expressed after the budget law and the reforms that have been announced.