COVID-19: Report from the General Confederation of Independent Trade Unions

20 Mar 2020

With the outbreak of COVID-19, CESI asked Roberto Di Maulo, CESI Vice President and Secretary-General of Fismic Confsal, an update on the national situation and challenges for the workers.

COVID-19: Report from the General Confederation of Independent Trade Unions

The whole world is suffering from a serious pandemic, a situation that no one thought could be experienced but which we need to be able to cope with today. Our country, in particular, is being hit hard and entire regions are recording a greater number of deaths caused by Covid-19 than in all other areas of the world.

As a trade union, we thank all those who are working to ensure that the pandemic is contained. Starting with the medical and nursing staff, but also cleaning services, transport and public sector staff as well as the many workers (technicians and executives) who ensure the continuity of manufacturing activities at such a serious and troubling time.

We have immediately demanded that not productions activities shall be closed, but that hygienic-sanitary conditions be provided for all those who have to continue and to make the workplace as safe as possible.

This was not possible in all workplaces, given the lack of adequate health care equipment. Therefore, we have asked the Italian government to put in place special measures, starting with the guarantee of pay cover for all those who cannot go to work. Moreover, we have asked the companies and the government to make an extraordinary effort in order to allow remote working to all those who can be physically absent from the job.

Now the government has freed up an initial sum of 25 billion which provides for interventions to help support the health system and cover people’s salaries through the employee redundancy fund. Europe also responded too late; the European Commission and the ECB initially underestimated the impact of the pandemic and, as a whole, national governments took too long to follow the example of China first and then Italy,, delaying the lockout around the outbreaks of infection. The UK Government, which even in the first phase argued that it was more appropriate not to intervene to contain the pandemic, has failed to cover itself in glory.

The effects of the pandemic cannot yet be predicted. Today, the ILO estimates that 26 million people will find themselves unemployed after the crisis and the impact on world GDP is estimated by leading analysts to amount to two/four points. This means that, in the coming days, the European Commission, flanked by the ECB, will have to provide extraordinary measures, setting aside the Stability Pact and intervening to support the economy to the tune of hundreds, if not thousands of billions of euros.

In this context, the role of CESI is fundamental and it must act as a stimulus for politicians to make clear that the post-pandemic world will have to look different to how it does at present.

Here’s what is needed:

  • An efficient public administration, there to serve its citizens
  • An efficient public health systems that needs to be better managed and equipped, instead of being subject to cuts
  • Research and Development capable of facing the technological revolution effectively
  • A Europe that does not outsource all manufacturing to China and the Far East, but that resumes producing essential goods on its own. Europe should manufacture with European champions able to compete with American giants as well as Russian and Chinese companies, with an entrepreneurial class that does not think only about profit, but also about their social responsibility.

Roberto Di Maulo

CESI Vice President

Roberto Di Maulo

CESI Vice President

Fismic Confsal Secretary General

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