Il Sindacato in Ferrovia: Dal Fascismo Alle Federazioni Dei Trasporti, 1922-1980

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Stefano Maggi and Federico Paolini (eds), Il sindacato in ferrovia: dal fascismo alle federazioni dei trasporti, 1922-1980, Marsilio, Venice (2000), 348 pp.

The Italian transport network is going through a critical period. Among EU members, Italy almost heads the list of countries where reorganisation is urgent and there is a need to enhance railway services to relieve road congestion. Moreover the trend of European integration and the growing concern across the continent about environmental pollution both point to greater use of rail. Partly as a result, Italian historians are turning their attention to the national transport system and the reasons for the late development of public transport in comparison with other European countries.

Little of such work has touched on the role of transport workers, so this book is particularly welcome. It is a major piece of research, using oral and written sources, supported by the Societa nazionale di mutuo soccorso Cesare Pozzo, at present the only Italian institution supporting historical scholarship on railways and railwaymen. Cesare Pozzo was himself a pioneer of trade unionism on the railways at the end of the nineteenth century, his biography having been published by Stefano Maggi in 1998. This book is a continuation of the story begun with Il sindacato ferrovieri italiani dalle origini al fascismo 1907-1925, published by the same institution in 1994. Together the two books cover the whole of the twentieth century and describe the history of one of the most militant categories of trade unionism - and democracy - in Italy. It is a history almost wholly neglected in the historiography, focusing as it does on workers in heavy industry - surprisingly, given that since the last decade of the nineteenth century it is the railwaymen who have been the spearhead of the trade union movement. As Maggi and Paolini point out in their introduction, although the railwaymen were always one of the most politicised groups of organised labour, their trade unionism was for long based on a policy of proud independence from the parties and was representative of the particularity of railway work. …