GKN Workers and Fridays for the Future Lobby Tuscan regional council

By Riccardo Chiari (from IL Manifesto, a left wing daily in Italy, translated and edited by Dave Kellaway)


A  joint lobby of the Tuscan Regional Council was organised last Friday to call for urgent action to counter climate disruption and to reiterate that only through public intervention is it possible to give real support to “green” production projects, such as the one elaborated by the ex-GKN workers. Meanwhile, the silence of politicians to the proposed regional law of public consortia in crisis areas, which could save their jobs and workplace, is deafening

The Fridays for Future students in Florence demonstrated  in front of the headquarters of the Regional Council of Tuscany together with the workers of the former Gkn Factory Collective and other student collectives They called for an  urgent intervention to counter climate change.  The young people of Fff put up a large banner in front of the entrance to the regional building that read:

“From factories to schools, climate convergence.”

As in the other cities on the peninsula where they demonstrated, the young activists of Fridays for Future called for “massive public intervention to achieve the green transition, create climate jobs and change the economy, also in view of the upcoming G7 in Puglia in June.” Edoardo Falchini of Fridays for Future in Florence pointed out that the event was promoted:

 “to remind us of the urgency of the climate crisis and how little time we have to act. This is why we are asking politicians for public intervention in the renewable energy industry. We want  sustainable mobility, as well as safer mobility within the city. In fact we support the `Firenze 30´ campaign that would make it more sustainable for pedestrians and cyclists.”

At the lobby, Alessandro Tapinassi, ex-Gkn, explained that the Factory Collective was participating along with other environmental forces, to talk about their proposal for the reindustrialisation of the Campi Bisenzio factory, because:

we cannot be left alone like this’. We try to do ‘green’ reindustrialization, but it is really difficult because we are being sabotaged (the bosses cut their electricity of the occupied factory the other day -Tr). Yet we protect jobs, not just our own, because otherwise our factory  would remain only an empty skeleton.”

Tapinassi, like his fellow workers, has continued for a good four months now without receiving the salary they are entitled to by law. She also gave an account of the unbearable cloak of silence from politicians in the face of the workers’ proposal for a regional law to create public consortia, through which municipalities, the region, universities, private individuals, cooperatives and research centers can intervene in industrial areas.

We are asking for any regional councilor to take this up, discussing  modifications if necessary,” Dario Salvetti pointed out in early April, “otherwise we will propose to transform it into a popular initiative law (law proposed through a local referendum-Tr)..

Two weeks later, there has been no response either from the Pd-IV (Democratic Party/ Italia Viva) majority that governs the region, or from the M5S (Five Star Movement) “progressive” opposition, nor even less from the right wing. All this despite the fact that Florence City Council passed a resolution, presented by Sinistra Progetto Comune, (Common Left Project – a minority left/progressive opposition on council) calling for the Region to make that text its own and discuss it urgently.

It is no coincidence that at the lobby in front of the Regional Council there was also mayoral candidate Dmitrij Palagi and Antonella Bundu of Sinistra Progetto Comune:

“We have supported from the first moment all environmentalist mobilisations especially those of the new generation on which politics often speaks but does not listen,”

Palagi explained:

too often on climate change it is said that it is a matter of individual behavior instead it is a systemic issue, of a development model on which we must intervene because there is no more time.”

Supporting the workers’ proposal and in support of the legislative initiative are instead: the director of the Institute of Economics of the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna in Pisa, Andrea Roventini; former regional councillor Enzo Brogi, current head of the Rights Department of the regional PD; and also Anna Marson, former regional councillor and currently ordinary professor at IUAV University Venice, proponent and first signatory of the law on the Government of the Territory (regional law 65/2014), which aims at zero land consumption urban planning and direct participation of communities in the management of the same. A law that defines infrastructural, craft, industrial and technological systems as constituent components of the territorial heritage with specific collective interest.

If the proposal drafted by ex Gkn workers committee becomes regional law, it could give real impetus to the industrial plan drawn up by the workers together with researchers from the Scuola Sant’Anna and a group of supportive researchers from other universities, involved in the Technical and Scientific Committee for the development of the industrial project, to give a future to the ex Gkn while making the regional economy stronger. [Currently that plan involves producing cargo bikes and solar panels- Tr].

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Dave Kellaway is on the Editorial Board of Anti*Capitalist Resistance, a member of Socialist Resistance, and Hackney and Stoke Newington Labour Party, a contributor to International Viewpoint and Europe Solidaire Sans Frontieres.

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