Right-wing premier Berlusconi has announced his plans to modify article 18 of the workers' statute (law protecting workers' rights) so that it does not cover workplaces with less than 15 workers. CGIL leader Sergio Cofferati declared that his union would reject all modifications and would do all in its power to stop such changes being implemented. Strikes have already taken place, and it is clear that the Italian working class will be in an even more combative mood by the autumn. Berlusconi's anti-working class measures combined with the effects of the current economic downturn are an explosive mixture.

After the government had reached an agreement with the other two trade union federations (CISL and UIL), the main federation, the CGIL, under the pressure of millions of workers, is preparing to organise another general strike for October 18. This time Cofferati is forced to go it alone. This will be the first time since 1968 that Italy will experience a "non-unitary" strike.

This month marks 80 years since the rise of Fascism in Italy. The Fascists were able to rise to power because the workers had faced a terrible defeat during the struggles of 1920. This article explains why that movement went down to defeat and draws the lessons for today. In the autumn of 1920 all the conditions for socialist revolution existed. At the crucial moment when the workers could have taken power their "leaders" blocked the road to revolution.