European elections in Italy: a worker candidate from the FIAT Pomigliano car plant

On the list of candidates being presented by the Italian Communist PRC party, there are a few worker candidates one of whom, Domenico Loffredo standing in the Italy South constituency, has been involved in leading the struggles at the FIAT Pomigliano car plant near Naples and is also a Marxist and supporter of FalceMartello. Here we publish a brief interview with Domenico.

The upcoming European Elections are an important moment in the wider struggle against the crisis that European bosses and bankers want to unload onto the backs of the working class. Workers are facing lay-offs, redundancies and casualisation of their jobs; families are struggling to make ends meet and pay the rent and their mortgages. Unemployment is soaring, while bankers and speculators are getting bailouts to cover the mountains of debt that they themselves have been responsible for while accumulating enormous wealth for themselves.

Now the governments and bosses of Europe are preparing a new series of all-out attacks, with wage cuts, increases in working hours, restrictions on the right to strike, less job security, cuts in the welfare state, education and health, privatisation of public services, etc. These policies have been carried out over recent years by both the right wing and the socialist parties in Europe.

Recent months have seen mobilisations in defence of jobs, particularly in Southern Italy where the situation is very serious, and notably at the Fiat factory at Pomigliano d’Arco (Naples) where the workers have had the backing of the entire community [see also Italy caught between the crisis of reformism and the rising mass movement].

Domenico Loffredo is a young worker and an experienced shop steward of the FIOM (engineering union) at Pomigliano and has been in the front line of this struggle; he suffered police repression on 5 February when the Pomigliano workers peacefully occupied the motorway.

The PRC (Communist Refoundation Party) is the main promoter of a Communist, Anti-Capitalist list in which Domenico Loffredo is standing as a Marxist candidate, defending the ideas of FalceMartello, the Marxists within the PRC.

What do you think of the current debate published in two major national papers about the idea that the working class is “moving further and further to the right”?

The real problem is the loss of a sense of belonging. There hasn’t been a party fully representing workers’ needs. Our party in its intentions has certainly tried to represent the needs of our class over these last years but hasn’t been able to root itself in the workplaces and has gradually disappeared, leaving a political vacuum. This has been filled mainly by what workers hear on TV, which has disorientated them and brought them under the political influence of right-wing elements. But I think that if we carry out a good campaign in the workplaces, with time we’ll be able to win the workers back towards the party.

What answers do you think are necessary to get out of the current crisis without it being the workers who have to pay as usual?

The only recipe possible is to fight back; we need to get back onto the streets with clear aims and an understanding of who our enemies are. There’s certainly a problem of the kind of production that can no longer be kept up in the way that capital has imposed on labour over the years, so I think it is fundamental that we manage to change production types, orientating towards eco-compatible products and reducing working hours without any loss of pay. These could be the initial solutions to what is a very complex problem. To achieve these results there is a real need for a big mobilisation whose strength must be based on the unity of all workers.

What is the connection between your candidacy and your involvement in struggles in the factory in defence of jobs?

My candidacy is the result of the struggle. As I said, we need to go back to putting down roots in the workplaces because only we workers, who know our situation at work, can find the answers to these problems in our everyday life. Through this candidature we of the PRC branch at Fiat Auto want to create a network of contacts that can lead to a strengthening of the labour movement, so that it can unite and come together on problems that are nearly always the same for everyone but are usually faced separately by each individual place of work.

Why should workers vote for the Communist Anti-Capitalist list?

The workers need someone who speaks for them. They’ve been abandoned and at this moment the only party that can bring the role of the working class into the foreground is a communist party that knows clearly who its enemy is and that means an anti-capitalist party. The problem is to win back their confidence, to be credible again; too often we’ve failed to keep our promises. Today we can no longer let this happen.

Do you want to make any other considerations about the left, the party and the unions?

The left isn’t recognisable any more. People no longer see the differences, which do exist, but now they’ve completely lost confidence. To have a strong left we need to go back to carrying out our role as a party and I don’t think it’s very different as far as the unions are concerned. Both have been affected by the “winds of renewal” which have reduced us to almost nothing, people don’t understand us any more. We must go back to doing the simple things we were born for, to talking about political honesty, entering into the problems of those we represent and using their language. It won’t be a short process, but it’s the only way possible.