Giovanni Monti, president of Legacoop Emilia-Romagna, was reported by the Bologna edition of La Repubblica as saying that “these manipulative kind of events which are on the increase among political extremists, as we’ve seen in Bologna, and which target cooperatives and unions, are as worrying as mafia-related events”. He was referring obliquely to migrant logistics workers’ struggle during the past few months.
Monti went on to talk about “illegal acts in the logistics sector” and made a point of underlining that “cooperatives associated to Legacoop aim to guarantee decent, qualified jobs and security”.
Legacoop together with Confcooperative are two of the largest cooperative federations in Italy. They bring together associations of cooperatives, grouped by market sector, type or locality. It’s important to point out that some cooperatives that award contracts to subsidiary “false cooperatives” certainly are part of Legacoop or Confcooperative, even if most cooperatives exploiting migrant workers are not. “False cooperatives” are companies formally registered as cooperatives but which operate at the outer limits of the law, profiting from special tax treatment and exploiting workers. “False cooperatives” are often linked to criminal groups and they can easily escape fiscal and legal controls.
The Coordinamento Migranti Bologna, which supports the logistics and migrant workers’ struggle, issued a press release strongly criticizing Monti’s statements.
“How can you not see which side cooperatives are on? How can you not see the cooperatives that fire striking workers, that falsify pay-packets, that don’t respect officially signed agreements, that don’t pay contributions? It’s because of this that cooperatives make profits, with the support of silent and collaborative unions. Migrants and logistics workers’ struggles are exposing this collusion between cooperatives and unions. (…) Migrants in the logistics sector are showing another way to be a union, bringing struggles against employers directly to workplaces. We are showing that despite everything appearing legal on the surface, cooperatives as employers are able to exploit migrant workers by blackmailing them with residence permits. Migrant workers say ‘No’ to this sham legality: you’re not going to exploit our lives for your ‘cooperative’ business.”