The inappropriate weapon of feminist strike

The images from Italy and from the entire world should not leave any doubt about how successful was the global women’s strike . But demonstrations are not the only way to have a clear picture about it: the partial data we refer to are showing a participation of 24% of dependent workers (we are using the data from Di Vico’s article on Corriere della Sera, although he is not clear enough on his references). This was happening while the CGIL (the main Italian Trade Union) was calling for assemblies in the workplace, in open antagonism with the strike. We should add data that are not observable or detectable, about the participation of casual workers, free-lances, volunteers and non-regular workers.

Over the last decades the right to strike has been denied to a growingly wider range of workers. Therefore this instrument of struggle has lost meaning and effectiveness, the global women’s strike has given it new significance, bringing its original strength back. The general strike, denied by the unions, has been practiced in every corner of the country to make political and practical issues central again, and not at all symbolic, if with the word symbolic we mean testimonial and abstract.

The struggle against gender violence is a struggle for autonomy, for minimum wage, for an income of self-determination, for equal pay. Through striking, we want to raise the issue of care work (unpaid or underpaid) that is carried out mainly by women, and the need for new welfare that should be inclusive, open and guaranteed. The freedom to choose about our lives without encountering ideological or material obstacles. Striking, we talk about a kind of knowledge that is not a neutral object, but that so far has been against women, about stereotypes and pre-established roles, about narratives and dangerous removals.

The battle to take back the strike was fought in every workplace, every school, every company. The hundreds of emails to NON UNA DI MENO, which were asking how to strike, indicate the will and the difficulty to exercise a constitutional right that for too long has been in the hands of trade union secretariats more than in the hands of female and male workers. Despite all this, workers caught the opportunity to cross their arms together, all around the world, exercising a radical and concrete form of struggle.

We believe, therefore, that those unions, as CGIL and FIOM, were wrong to not catch this opportunity, and on the contrary try to get rid off it, if not openly fight against this possibility; they did not want to seize the symbolic and political push and recognize the women’s battle as common and material one.

It is remarkable that, from the silence registered on November 27th – the day after the huge national demonstration against male violence on women – today we witness a chorus of disapproval. From important editorialists to the Education Minister Fedeli, we can definitely say that the “inappropriate weapon” of a feminist strike has been hurting a lot. For the newspaper Corriere della Sera we should spend our time mending. Becoming thus new good Penelopes “keepers of the West” which are threatened by the new “Proci” (suitors of Penelope). Too bad that it is precisely this West, made of Grosse Koalitionen, neoliberalism, new patriarchal and racist government, neo-Nazism, that is producing our subordination, our exclusion, the conditions of violence, exploitation, and poverty which are increasingly harder and harder.

The call, to which we responded on March 8th in more than fifty countries of the world, tells us to recognize ourselves as something different; something that goes beyond borders, genders, races. Women became the main actor of a shout of redemption: women’s lives matter and they shall not be put at your service.

To strike was not a mistake. Now we are stronger and we can return to write our feminist plan against violence on women. The appointment is for the next national assembly the 22nd to 23rd of April in Rome. Were we wrong for asking for bread, besides roses? Certainly not. And we will continue to do so.