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It is the first of May of solidarity, hospitality and respect for the dignity of people. The Union chose the small Sicilian town of Pozzallo, whose port is often at the crossroads of the landings of many immigrants, as a “symbol” of peace and a necessary integration between peoples.

Europe must do more to stop this never-ending tragedy in the Mediterranean which cannot become a graveyard. In the face of a  geopolitical challenge  of epochal dimensions, the European governments at a summit a few days ago did not provide an adequate and convincing response. Appeals and promises are not enough. It would be essential to tackling the problem at its roots, stopping the new human traffickers by making an agreement on a joint policy between European governments, so as to give definite responses to the thousands of men, women and children who venture into the sea to escape the wars, violence and hunger. We do not need weapons or naval blockades. It takes a strong political and social cohesion, by mitigating national self-interests and xenophobic demagogy of some anti-European movements. To do this, we need to start off from a united Europe.

You don’t get anywhere with just a policy of austerity and social and economic sacrifices.The fiscal compact was broken up by the recession. The Europe of the citizens should  be based on work, respect for rights and development. It takes measures to increase consumption, raise wages and pensions by lowering national and local taxes, unfreezing of rigid parameters for return on investment in infrastructure, innovation, research, training.

Our Government needs to do much more on growth. With the timid adoption of measures up till now , the Italian economy will go back to 2007 levels, only in seven-years i.e.2022. Can we wait all this time? It will not be the new voting law, that we will need to seek parliamentary consent, to improve the condition of Italian families. The Expo which opens in Milan today certainly represents a great opportunity for the development of our country, an extraordinary event realised thanks to extraordinary efforts of workers and of the Trade Union.

But the signs of recovery in the economy should be accompanied immediately with clear and selective choices of industrial policy, with a redistribution of wealth and income in favour of the weakest social sectors from public and school contracts that have been overdue for 7 years. Everything that is retrieved by cutting government spending and minimising waste in regions and local authorities is aimed at reduction of taxes, investment and employment.

For this reason, the CISL is collecting signatures on a law of people’s initiative that extends the tax bonus of 1,000 Euros for pensioners, from young employees to disabled. It is not the minimum living wage the most appropriate response to unemployment because it would be a very expensive welfare intervention tool that lacks any link to the productive world. Work for the youth can be created by encouraging investment and through agreements between the social partners, with an extensive fiscal policy,attacking unresolved nodes of our country, as high energy costs, too many municipal companies, tax evasion scandal, a large number of public works which are on standby because of vetoes and cheaper tenders.

This is why the CISL is urging for the set-up of a pact between the government, the regions and the social partners, which will fix the country’s priorities on which each must do his part. The self-sufficiency of the government does not pay reforms and is likely to also become an alibi for anyone (including the social partners) who want to escape from their responsibilities. The crisis can only be defeated if we are united, breaking the long chain of abuses, corruption, lawlessness, exploitation, denial of workers ‘ rights that unfortunately still characterises many parts of our country, especially the South.

This will only be possible to do if the social partners, political, institutions at all levels take on the weight and responsibility to put in place interventions to favour integration, solidarity and hospitality in legality, ensuring the right to vote to those who work and pay taxes in our country, together with the reform of the law on citizenship to the children of immigrants born and raised in Italy. This is the strong message that the Union wishes to launch today from Pozzallo and from all Italian cities on this may 1st. It’s up to the government and political forces to perceive the moment in order to build a more just and supportive country, founded, as the “fathers”  of our constitution would say, based on labour values and democracy.

Annamaria Furlan
General Secretary CISL

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