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

18
The Problems of a Soggetto Politico

From the Reform Strategy to EUR

There were two phases in the sindacato's reform strategy in the 1970s. The reform strategy on which the sindacato embarked during its period of buoyancy at the beginning of the decade set out an ambitious programme, aimed at correcting the structural weaknesses of the national economy and impressing on it a new model of development. The confederations' proposals were wide‐ ranging. Those on public spending included the formation of a unified health system in place of the chaotic range of schemes previously available, as well as the reform of education and the creation of a housing programme with the necessary powers of land expropriation. The sindacato also proposed the reform of the grossly inequitable tax system, whose burden fell disproportionately on those taxed at source, and which at the same time allowed billions to be lost to the public purse. Initiatives were proposed for redirecting investment and for restructuring and modernising industry and agriculture. The proposals were clearly aimed at shifting the burden of development on to the internal market through a greater reliance on public consumption. The strategy was an attempt to create a set of objectives at the macroeconomic plane and thus provide a coherent framework within which to shape workers' claims right down to plant level.

The second phase of the sindacato's strategy, however, entailed a major change of course, since the recession which followed the global oil crisis of 1973 made it impossible for the sindacato to pursue all its objectives simultaneously. 1 Employers and government began increasingly to see the solution to the

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1
For a comprehensive account of the sindacato's change of strategy in response to the economic crises of the decade, see P. Lange and M. Vannicelli, 'Strategy under Stress: The Italian Union Movement and the Italian Crisis in Developmental Perspective', pp. 136ff.

-231-

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