_ Workers of Italy _
Above image: An unemployed man walks, idle, through a weekly market.
Italy is a democratic republic founded on labour – the first statement of the Italian constitution. Work is a right and a duty, the backbone of citizenship, yet it doesn’t make people free, not until they’re fairly paid.
During the 19th century, hundreds of thousands of migrants – scared and cold, exactly like people coming from Middle-East and Africa today – departed from Italy looking for better conditions. They docked in far flung countries such as the United States, Canada, Brazil, Argentina and Australia. Some of them already had a jobs in Italy, with salaries only sufficient to survive until the next shift. In some cases, miners had to buy goods from the company they worked for – their employers were their landlords too – with every cent earned went back to their employers. They were slaves. Once abroad, with their sweat, they helped build a better future for their host countries, many sent money back to their families, others kept on living on the fringe of society because they wanted so or had to. Whatever happened after they moved, work was the reason they left. After almost a century from these facts, I wondered how far Italian workers have come. A few fragments of the answer is in the sequence below.
A potter explains how malleable clay is once worked.
Alfonso Giordano: The presiding judge in the maxi trial (Italian: maxiprocesso), a criminal trial against 475 members of the Sicilian mafia “Cosa nostra”, held in Palermo (Sicily) in 1986-87. The trial took place in a bunker-courthouse specially constructed for this purpose inside the walls of the prison of Palermo. Giordano was flanked by two other judges who were ‘alternates’, should anything fatal happen to him before the end of what was to be a lengthy trial.
A neuroscientist, working on a brain sample as part of his PhD program on gene therapy for the central nervous system in epilepsy.
A dealer of “luxury goods for dogs” at “Jamaica” a bar famous as a meeting place for Italian artists during the seventies.
A music teacher plays a flute while travelling by train from his city to the little town where he works.
Gino Strada; surgeon and founder of “Emergency” a humanitarian NGO that provides emergency medical treatment to civilian victims of war, especially in relation to landmines. Today Emergency is active in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Iraq, Sierra Leone, Sudan and Sri Lanka. Emergency’s humanitarian projects usually involve construction, support, and operation of permanent hospitals.
Pino Maniaci – a journalist denouncing mafia facts in Partinico (Sicily) and Telejato’s (private network) owner in his broadcast’s main office, the day after their dogs bodies were found, hanged, in their yard as intimidation. Behind him a picture depicting Paolo Borsellino, considered to be one of the most important magistrates killed by the Sicilian Mafia and he is remembered as one of the main symbols of the battle of the State against the Mafia.