“Racist sentences at work”: 20 Senegales workers “fired” in an Italian facility
«We need to bleach the warehouse»
So the black employees were left at home
Vercelli’s City Council votes unanimously
a document against ethnic hatred
by Fabio Giuseppe Carlo Carisio
70 years have passed since the thriving Silvana Mangano played in the Vercelli rice paddies narrating in a movie a story of love and exploited “mondine”, the women who cleans rice. A decades away from that film “Bitter Rice” and more than a century after the conquest of the legendary 8 hours of work after the strikes that took place at the epicenter of that area of the Po Valley, the city of Vercelli becomes the scene of another much more contemporary battle: that which contrasts African immigrants with Italians in the struggle for the conquest of a job. This time it is not the black foreigners who snatch a contract from those who can boast the tricolor ancestry.
No! It is exactly the opposite. It is the Italians who have been called upon to replace the honest workers who came from the Black Continent, for some arcane that has already undergone a hidden pact on the downside but, above all, what is more serious, seems to be tainted by manifest statements of racism denounced by the trade unionists and reported in local newspapers. A story that evokes the terror’s climate of another movie even more dramatic: Mississippi Burning!
The labor dispute within the MAXI-DI warehouse of the well-known food company in the Triveneto area Brendolan has become a tug of war between the company that manages the logistics service and the Fisascat Cisl, the tertiary workers union, after the lef-wing unionist Filcams Cgil, for mysterious reasons that have stunned the colleagues, has abandoned from the defense of the 20 Senegalese that since October 15 last year have been out of work due to the non-renewal of the fixed-term contract.
It can certainly happen the interruption of the relationship with employees actually precarious but if this happens “to give a nice whitewashed to the warehouse” as it would have been declared by the new managers of the Manhandwork company, taking over the contract, according to what reported by multiple witnesses and publicly declared by the general secretary Fisascat Cisl Piemonte Orientale, Luca Trinchitella, it is obvious that the battle becomes war: in defense of human rights even before those of workers.
The seriousness of the matter is proven by the Document presented in the City Council by the former socialist senator Roberto Scheda, a distinguished lawyer from Vercelli who counts but always attentive to the causes of the weakest, who supported Trinchitella’s protests by making them his own in an act unanimously approved by the City Council (27 votes out of 27 present) for immediate reporting of the case to the Minister of Labor and Social Policies..
«There would have been episodes of racial discrimination against non-EU workers with free and indiscriminate attacks, followed by the termination of the employment relationship with workers of Senegalese origin” reads the Scheda’s document (also signed by Paolo Campominosi and Andrea Conte ) which invites “the municipal administration to expressly condemn incidents or even cases based on racial discrimination and the propagation of ethnic hatred, in contempt of constitutional norms and the rights sanctioned by the Workers’ Statute. The occurrence of such eventualities in a workplace is in fact even more intolerable».
The center-right wing, majority political formation in the Municipality of Vercelli led by the mayor Andrea Corsaro, sided compactly in favor of the document demonstrating once again that on the really concrete and essential issues of the Lega and Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy) know how to take the field on the side of workers, white or black, without distinction. The document then passed unanimously with left-wing politician’s votes.
As the trade unionist Trinchitella remarked with bitterness in many statements the great absentee is instead the left-wing union of the CGIL that has deserved the severe criticisms of a councilor in particular. But let’s try to reconstruct the story in chronological order.
«On October 7, an assembly was held in the MAXI-DI warehouse in which the workers and workers present told us of continuous threats from the managers with repercussions on the confirmation or not of the times determined according to the work performances (average of movement and overtime carried out) and transfers for undetermined times that do not respect the diktats – tells Luca Trinchitella of Fisascat Cisl that today is also fighting for the workers registered with the CGIL – We were also reported in the aforementioned assembly of serious attitudes of character “racist” towards black workers who, according to them, would have been the object of ridicule because they would not have renewed their contract “to make a nice whitewashed warehouse”».
In the face of what emerged from the assembly we declared a state of agitation with a day of abstention from work for 11 October». But the protest does not induce the leadership to desist, on the contrary: «Following our press release, the Managing Director of Manhandwork presented himself on the warehouse on October 9 to talk with the workers and during the interview the same made serious threats to the Syndicate address using phrases such as “who wrote the release and also who hung it regret it” or phrases like “if the union tells me that I can’t talk to my employees about the plan … I pass it above with the machine”».
Above all the true nature of the operation would have surfaced: «During the interview the same things related to the Syndicate emerged, that is a climate of terror imposed in the warehouse and racist phrases related to a group of Senegalese who had the temporary contract in expiring on October 15 and that they would have left at home “to give a nice whitewashed warehouse”. The Company has written to the Syndicate requesting an urgent meeting and the Syndicate in the face of this has suspended the strike pending the confrontation with the maintenance of the state of agitation».
«On October 18th the aforementioned meeting took place at the warehouse in which the Company told us that it was not able to understand who had said the racist phrases and that with respect to the behavior of the managers it would have started a training course to improve behavioral attitudes towards the workers to be coordinated. Not having considered the answers obtained by Fisascat as satisfactory, we organized a rally Friday 25 October in front of the MAXI DI warehouse gates in support and to ask the Company for the reintegration of the Senegalese workers left at home» adds Trinchitella.
In the midst of this, the ‘bailing out” by the Chamber of Labor (CGIL) occurred.
«The Fisascat Cisl announces that the assembly scheduled for October 29, 2019 will not be held as the Filcams Cgil has decided not to do so, because according to its Secretary General the Fisascat and the Filcams have different visions. Fisascat considers this approach wrong because having different visions is not a problem but an opportunity for a healthy comparison, especially if this occurs in the presence of workers and workers (real and only judges) who can say which vision is the most consistent with the their thought».
But the union clash reaches its climax on October 30: «The words of the Filcams Cgil regarding the protection of all workers beyond the color of the skin … are really “curious” given that the vast majority of workers left at home are Senegalese (moreover some of them registered with the Filcams Cgil) … what a pity that only the Fisascat was present in front of Maxi DI’s gates on Friday October 25th».
We consider it completely useless to listen to those who did not want to be present in front of a demonstration that wanted to denounce the racial imprint made manifest by the 20 Senegaleses that lost the job. Instead, the Cisl’s protests are now supported by the center-right municipal administration for finding a reasonable solution
ATTACK OF THE COUNCILOR CANNATA AGAINST CGIL
Extremely harsh, in the City Council, was the vote declaration of the independent councilor Giuseppe Cannata, who resigned as vice president of the assembly after the aggressive post on Facebook against Bibbiano’s child abuse and the Forteto ended up on all media of Italy: «I heartily appreciate the initiative of the senator Scheda which focuses on the situation of workers who are losing their jobs, apparently, only because of the color of their skin. It is outrageous that a company that works for the famous Brendolan group has decided to leave these employees home overnight ».
«This is at least as scandalous as the fact that, as reported by the press releases of the same Fisascat Cisl of Vercelli, the CGIL has called itself out of this story. I remember that I was officially attacked by the same CGIL of Vercelli for an unfortunate post on Facebook that I immediately removed. Now that the fate of workers of foreign origin is in danger, does the same union slip away? – Cannata wonders – Is this not the clearest proof of the false goodwill of the left that persecutes opinions but proves to be incapable of helping the willing and regular immigrants in difficulty for a contractual relationship certainly very precarious?»
«Without if and without but we must defend the dignity of these workers: the color of their skin has no importance. I vote in favor of this motion because racism and discrimination, of whatever kind, are not in my possession as I have always declared and reiterated» says the Councilor exponent of the center of Vercelli alongside Cisl in an attempt to remove the chestnuts from the fire, the leftist union does not want to touch the sensitive fingertips, perhaps for fear of burning their fingers.
In the same assembly the City Council, thanks to Cannata’s vote (decisive for the quorum), approved the recognition of honorary citizenship to Senator Liliana Segre, the Jewish woman who survived the Nazi concentration camps.
It is therefore hoped that the newly formed Segre parlamentary Commission against discrimination will not only deal with the rights of illegal migrants on ship across Mediterranean Sea but also and above all with those who honestly work in Italy.
Fabio Giuseppe Carlo Carisio
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