Stop the war machine
By Davide Penna
A conversation with Genoa union leader José Nivoi who works in the north Italian port.
We’re publishing this interview, which first appeared in April’s edition of the Italian magazine Città Nuova, to highlight and support the civil action for peace conducted by the Autonomous Collective of Dock Workers of Genoa, Italy.
Workers at the port of Genoa have decided to block the loading of arms onto ships destined for countries at war. They have already conducted a number of such strikes and are planning more. Pope Francis has publically acknowledged their action. We spoke with José Nivoi, FiltCgil Union leader and member of the Autonomous Collective of Dock Workers of Genoa (CALP).
You are continuing to mobilize. What are your on-going initiatives?
When we went on strike in May and June last year, we blocked the loading of military equipment in our port onto the Saudi ship, the Bahri Yanbu. On 17 February this year, we organized a protest involving 130 workers at Ponte Etiopia when another ship owned by the same company tried to enter the harbour. Our action was effective thanks to the network of information and solidarity with workers at other European ports. We don’t want our work to make us complicit with a trade that kills people. It was about four years ago that we really began to understand what was going on, when a massive trade in off-road vehicles later used in the conflict in Libya was uncovered.
What is driving you to carry on this battle?
We don’t want to be just another link in the supply chain of arms. We’d rather be a grain of sand to disrupt a system which, as long as public opinion stays silent on the issue, will continue to bankroll terrible wars. We conducted a specific investigation which revealed how Bahri company ships set sail from North America, arrive in Europe and proceed from here to the Middle and Far East, contributing to conflicts which the United Nations has declared to be against human rights and violate international laws.
What obstacles have you encountered and what are your future objectives?
We’ve encountered a real lethargy and lack of public awareness. The residents of Genoa must feel this battle as their own, because war touches all of us. We would like to wake up public opinion to this knowledge and motivate our political forces to act on our Constitution and laws, such as Law 185/90, which prohibits the production, transportation and sale of arms to countries involved in conflict. We would like to speak to young people in universities and colleges.