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The strengthening of the judicial system and the fight against corruption as a starting point for social dialogue and workers’ rights

Presentation of the Conference and of the aims of the Project
Nino Galante – Chairman of the Project for Development

The road that has led to the enlargement of Europe to 25 countries is undoubtedly an event of historical magnitude. It has led to the constitution of an economic and political area comprising approximately 400 million inhabitants capable of having an impact on the future of the economy of the world and its social features. Yet, some knotty problems still remain unsolved and these could, in our view, alter the extent of growth and the nature of democracy.

The first issue that is yet to be worked out is the free circulation within the European Union of the citizens of countries that have just become members. The possibility for member states to derogate from the free circulation within the European Union and the consequent redefinition of entry quotas for migrants, including the citizens of the new member states, does nothing but perpetuate the policies that discriminate against migrating citizens and workers. This restrictive policy, which has culminated in the Bolkestine directive, is all the more unacceptable if one considers that policies of free trade abound - even on foodstuffs and services within the European Union.
Indeed, on the one hand, this directive radically changes the system of social guarantees and workers’ rights; on the other hand, there is the risk that the rules of competition may be altered when all barriers honouring contractual guarantees for workers and thus labour cost and social security are knocked down. As a consequence, this would not only lead to the imposition of a neo-liberal economic policy but at the same time to the disappearance of the European social model and, as a result, the value of a sustainable form of development.

The “ constitutional treaty “ itself - unfortunately born without the actual participation of the citizens of the European Community – though representing a point of mediation between alternative viewpoints and social models, is hampered by its own limits and contradictions. The latter needs to be the points of departure for bringing about profound changes, most importantly those related to the social model of rights with an unconditional “constitutional” statement rejecting war as a means for solving conflicts, the unequivocal affirmation of social rights and labour rights, the recognition of European citizenship for migrant workers within a social model of development based on the idea that each individual has the right to a decent job.

It is no coincidence that the process leading to the ratification of the European Constitution is proceeding with considerable difficulty, both because citizens do not feel involved and are poorly informed as regards this complex and far-reaching document, but also because the third part regarding the system of social guarantees expounded in the “ Nizza Charter” lacks clarity.
France’s recent rejection of the treaty - resulting from contradictory positions in civilian society as concerns the lines of action adopted by the European Union for its social and economic policy - needs to be examined in depth and with great concern for the future of the European Union. Clearly, it is not a question of withdrawing from the great project of the European Constitution but rather to make it more vigorous by starting from its weaknesses, that is to say those concerning the sphere of rights and the European social model which has been at the centre of the initiatives undertaken by European labour unions and great mass movements, especially youth movements, against war, in favour of the assertion of social rights, international cooperation and solidarity with the countries in the southern hemisphere.

This means Europe is not intended merely as an economic area integrated in the global market but also as a global subject with a political and social cohesion, upholding the values of peace, solidarity and equal rights for all, regardless of skin colour, ethnic provenience or religious faith.
The reinstatement of the rule of law on an international plane after the rift caused by the USA on account of the war in Iraq, is the condition necessary to achieve greater effectiveness in the fight against international terrorism and, generally speaking, all forms of illegality and crime throughout the world.

The strict adherence to United Nations resolutions and conventions are starting point for affirming the rule of law and opposing illegality and abuse of power.The evolution of democracy without predetermined models, the conscious participation by civilian society and labour unions in the processes of development at all levels represents the premise for counteracting the many forms of corruption. Criminal organizations may find fertile terrain wherever the exercise of “legitimate ” power prevents citizens from taking part in the management of public welfare and stands in the way of the exercise of the powers of control typical of a State subject to the rule of law.This is stated authoritatively in an inquiry conducted by the European Union (D.C.S.):“ Corruption is particularly widespread wherever legislative power or judicial power are weak, wherever the rules of the State subject to the Rule of Law are not obeyed, wherever the patronage system has become a common practice, wherever public administration lacks autonomy and professional skills and where civilian society does not have the means necessary to bear pressure on the authorities. Corruption manifests itself within the public administration, at the political and at the economic level.”

Corruption in various sectors of the public administration has a heavy impact on development, on the nature of development; corruption itself becomes a channel which enables veritable criminal organizations to expand, consolidate, and ramify transnationally. Simply consider the corruption on the market of contracts and services awarded by public administration, the laundering of “dirty” money often coming from the drug trade, and from criminal organizations engaged in illegal immigration which also traffic in young women and minors for prostitution.
Moreover, the opening up of markets lacking clear rules and acknowledged rights that might improve the lives of migrant workers could easily contribute to the consolidation of criminal activities that manage - or act as intermediaries in - the labour market where they have close connections to racketeers in their countries of origin.
This phenomenon - together with migrants’ hope for a better life - contributes to the expansion of hidden market or irregular labour, also known as “informal labour”, which forces migrant workers into a state of subordination bordering on slavery. The more restrictive and discriminating the laws on immigration in all European countries, the more illegal immigration, the more irregular and black-market labour will exist, and the greater the benefits reaped by the “traffickers organizing the journeys of death”.On the contrary, a policy of acceptance and solidarity towards all citizens – not just those coming from the European Union – which might grant them legal residence permits so that they can work, study or pursue whatever activity they wish, would be a good and effective way of furthering the rule of law and would seriously impact all criminal organizations that profit at the expense of migrants.

The Italian Labour Union CGIL is well aware that fighting against corruption is no different from putting forward demands at the work-place by bargaining for better working conditions (shifts, salaries, health and safety) and, on a wider scale, for a growth of the economy and employment based on social cohesion and rights.
Indeed, opposition to various forms of corruption and illegality creates the premise for the full implementation – vigorous and effective - of Union actions aiming at development, starting from the sectors of society and the territories most at risk of being penetrated by phenomena of corruption and organized crime.
Congruently with this intent, the three Confederations CGIL-CISL-UIL have decided to send a strong signal of social alert by organizing a great May-Day demonstration in Scampia, a part of Naples with a high rate of social degradation where organized crime controls the drug traffic in conjunction with world-wide organizations. The event aimed to raise public awareness about the need for a “renewal “ of society in order that the premise necessary for a policy of growth and social integration may be laid down for the new generations.
It is quite evident that the Union’s initiative must result in an added political value that could trigger a social dialogue in society and may engage various institutions and social partners interacting with public policies -not only those repressing phenomena of corruption - by investing in the system of production and services as well as by pinpointing a way of getting people to participate in civilian society. Local governments ( regions, districts, communities ,etc.) will have to take on this challenge.Within this context, the Labour Union plays not only the role of bargaining partner that safeguards the working conditions and the rights of the employed, but also aims to accomplish the task of participating democratic subject.

As a political actor upholding transparency and legality and by conducting campaigns devoted to and targeting young people, the Union strives to effectively counteract the corrupting attacks of criminal organizations.The presentations that follow and the available documentation will recount the extraordinary experiences of various branches of the Union – those of the sectorial category, the territorial organizations, labour and the surveys carried out by CGIL at the national level.
From the years past to the present time, the CGIL Italian Union has been totally and uniquely committed to counteracting illegality, corruption and organized crime.
Within the new European and international context, what has come to light are the shortcomings essentially residing, as far as the labour union is concerned, in the fact that corruption cannot adequately be beaten in one single country without taking into account the “network of crime” with transnational connections. This effort, this qualitative leap must be accomplished by Unions in the new Europe which looks to the Balkans, the Mediterranean and Africa.

Only in this way will we make a more incisive contribution to the fight against corruption and crime in the new scenario unfolding in a globalized economy.
 
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