Trade unions targeted by terrorists

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In May 1999 the Italian trade union movement was struck by political terrorism when Massimo D'Antona, a union-linked labour law expert, academic and government consultant was murdered by the Red Brigades terrorist group.

On 20 May 1999, Massimo D'Antona, the head of the juridicial council of the Cgil trade union confederation and a professor at the University of Rome and government consultant, was killed not far from his house in Rome. Responsibility for the murder was claimed by the Red Brigades (Brigate Rosse) terrorist group, which was responsible for a long series of attacks and murders during the so-called anni di piombofrom 1972 to 1989.

Mr D'Antona, who was recently appointed as the legal consultant to the Minister of Labour, Antonio Bassolino, was closely involved in a number of important legislative initiatives which have characterised the development of the Italian system of industrial relations during recent years. He collaborated on drafting the laws on union representation in the public sector (IT9806229F) and on privatisation of the employment relationship in the public administration (IT9703105N), and the draft law on representation which is currently being discussed by parliament (IT9804226F). Mr D'Antona was also the author of the text of the tripartite national "social pact for development and employment" signed in late 1998 (IT9901335F).

The Red Brigades' document justifies the murder of Mr D'Antona because he was a representative of the government on the December 1998 social pact's standing bargaining forum. He is described as the "political-operational pivot between the government and the confederal unions, the person who developed the political impact of the social pact and of the neo-corporatist strategy". Mr D'Antona is blamed for all his trade union and government activity: "he developed the union regulations for public sector employment which was also a reference model for the law on representation in the private sector ... he worked to modify law 146 on the regulation of the right to strike in public services, he carried out an action to settle the social conflict forcedly through neo-corporatism ... the corporatist, anti-proletarian and counter-revolutionary character of this political-economic structure [ie the social pact] is unequivocal and the role played by Massimo D'Antona in this project is evident. The offensive has been relaunched against D'Antona according to the criterion of attacking the heart of the state, which is the cornerstone action of the armed struggle used to conquer political power and establish the dictatorship of the proletariat." The document also contains a frontal attack on the trade union confederations and particularly on Cgil, identified as a traitor to the working class, and on Cisl, because of its role in proposing concertation and the social pact.

This episode shocked and alarmed the Italian ruling class, while trade unions invited workers to express their indignation by stopping work for some minutes and through sit-ins. The commemoration of Mr D'Antona took place on 21 May 1999 on the square in front of the Ministry of Labour, attended by Carlo Azelio Ciampi, the Head of State, Massimo D'Alema, the Prime Minister, and all the political and many trade union leaders.

Sergio Cofferati, secretary general of Cgil, remembered D'Antona's kindness and competence and stated that "the trade union loses one of its most important collaborators. If the most difficult part of the economic recovery is now behind us is because the most binding choices have been taken thanks to the work of people such as Massimo D'Antona." Sergio D'Antoni, secretary general of Cisl, said that the terrorists, killing Mr D'Antona as they had Ezio Tarantelli (a Cisl economist killed by terrorists in 1985)," also strike against trade unionism, the concertation policy and the model of society we intend to build". Pietro Larizza, secretary general of Uil, invited workers to "be vigilant against the new terrorism". Carlo Callieri, vice-president of the Confindustria employers' confederation, remembered Mr D'Antona as a loyal and competent interlocutor.

Italian workers protested against terrorism by holding thousands of workplace meetings and suspending work for 15 minutes of national mourning in all factories and offices during the official commemoration. The trade union confederations unions organised national demonstrations against terrorism in Rome and Bologna for Saturday 29 May 1999.

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