On Tuesday a general strike took place in Greece - following on from the two massive general strikes that shook the country in the spring of 2001, and forced the government to back down on its proposed attacks on social spending. As we said at the time, these strikes marked a watershed, a turning point. Now the new mood of militancy has been shown once again.

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.