Politics and Ideology in the Italian Workers' Movement: Union Development and the Changing Role of the Catholic and Communist Subcultures in Postwar Italy

By Gino Bedani | Go to book overview

14
The Question of Unity: Political Parties and
Hidden Agendas

Preparations for Unity

The industrial struggles which culminated in the 'Hot Autumn' of 1969 brought with them a widespread demand for organic unity at all levels of the sindacato. From the start, rank-and-file mobilisation had bypassed traditional divisions, and this had clearly been a source of strength. The three confederations thus found the question of unity forced on to their congress agendas in 1969, before the disputes of the 'autunno caldo' had been concluded.

For the first time since the split in the late forties, delegates from other confederations were present at each congress. In his opening report to the first of these, in June, the General Secretary of the Cgil, Novella, while supporting unity, struck a note of caution. His major reserve lay in meeting all the demands of incompatibilità. Although in agreement with the principle in relation to election to parliament, he argued against its extension to positions of leadership in the party. 1 The majority of speakers, however, both socialist and communist, wished to go further, arguing that autonomy from political parties was essential if the Cisl and the Uil were to be convinced that Cgil leaders would be free of divided loyalties. It was finally agreed that 'incompatibility' with parliamentary positions and political committees of parties would be put into immediate effect and that within a matter of months it would apply also to the executive committees of parties. 2 In February 1970 a meeting of the General Council of the Cgil decided that this requirement should be enforced from March, and Novella, who had already given up his parliamentary seat, resigned

____________________
1
See I congressi della Cgil, vol. viii, part 1, pp. 57-60 for Novella's arguments on 'incompatibility'.
2
For the text of the resolution, see ibid., pp. 512-13.

-182-

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