The Italian General Confederation of Labour (CGIL) has been awarded the Freedom From Fear award in recognition of their bravery in the face of the fascist attack against their headquarters in Rome, Italy.

Members of far-right party Forza Nuova used the cover of a protest against Covid containment measures to attack the union’s offices on the evening of 9 October 2021. The mob shouted threats against the union’s elected leadership as they violently forced entry, breaking windows and ransacking the union’s iconic headquarters.

Refusing to be intimidated, CGIL was quick to react. Hundreds of members came together outside the building the following day and workers held vigils outside their union buildings throughout the country over the subsequent week. CGIL was joined by fellow Italian unions CISL and UIL in calling for a national demonstration for democracy which was answered by the 200,000 demonstrators who showed up in Rome. This show of strength echoed throughout Europe, with fellow trade unionists organising solidarity events across the continent.

“It was clear to all from the very beginning that the attack was not only against the CGIL, but it was against the world of labour, civil rights and democracy of Italy and the whole world. We will continue pursuing this struggle together and to build an international network aimed at defending democracy and labour and at fighting all fascisms,” said Maurizio Landini, CGIL General Secretary, in his acceptance speech.

The award was presented by UNI Global Union President Ruben Cortina during the UNI’s World Executive Board. “The act of violence was an assault on trade unionism and democracy. UNI Global Union applauds CGIL’s determination to continue to fight for democracy, freedom and justice, setting an example in Europe and worldwide; at the workplace, in politics and in elections,” explained the award announcement.

“Defending and deepening democracy is core to trade unionism. UNI Europa unions set this among our joint priorities. The massive response by workers in Rome and its echoes across Europe were a stunning example of this work in action. The movement has come out stronger and more determined. The courage of our brothers and sisters at the CGIL has lifted us all,” said Oliver Roethig, UNI Europa Regional Secretary.

UNI Europa