New immigrant struggles in Italy’s logistics industry
The wave of strikes in the logistics sector since 2008 is by far the most important struggle that has developed in Italy in the wake of the global economic crisis. In this article we reflect on its potential for the renewal of the labour movement. We ground our discussion in an analysis of global production transformations and migration as a factor of working class re-composition. We show that in Italy the crisis is determining an acute process of deindustrialisation, while austerity and harshening immigration restrictions are reinforcing the deregulation and racialisation of employment relation. Deindustrialisation, however, is matched by the growth of the logistics sector and its reorganisation along the lines of Just-in-Time production, which actually strengthens workers’ bargaining power at the point of production. After describing working conditions in the sector, we present the main characteristics of logistics struggles. The mainly immigrant logistics workers have been able to exercise their power through blockades and strikes, obtaining improved agreements with some of the main logistics companies. In a context of increasingly generalised precarity, these struggles can inspire workers in other sectors and promote a process of international class re-composition.