Torino conference report

26.Mar.08 - On March 8, 2008, the third station of the Transational Chain of Migration Related Actions took place in Turin. The conference was planned after the huge demonstration of October 27, 2007, in Brescia (14.000 migrants), and held in the perspective of opening the process toward a migrants' May Day008 in Milan. Our aim is to improve the general struggle against precarisation of labour starting from the political centrality of migrant labour. In this perspective, and for the developing of migrants' networking process and struggles, it was necessary to understand deeply how the contemporary conditions of labour are changing and how the political management of borders and migration is connected with the process of precarization of labour as a whole. The conference was introduced by Najat Achak (Tavolo Migranti – Frassanito Network), who explained the role of the Transnational Chain in the process of becoming common of migrants' struggles. She stressed the importance of going beyond the character of celebration which migrants' day use to have, and to fight against every attempt to stop the freedom that migrant women and men practice in their crossing the borders every day. Then, Edda Pando (Rete dei cittadini di fatto, Milano) introduced the conference within the path we are building toward a migrants' May Day. In this frame, she emphasized the importance of the demand for the right to stay against all the legislations that considers migrants merely as labour-force to be exploited and expulsed. Sandro Mezzadra introduced the category of migrant labour as a point of view which allows to understand the contemporary transformations and instability of capitalism and to go beyond the dichotomy human rights/repressive politics and the rhetoric of "Fortress Europe". While migrants actually cross the borders every day, challenging European controls, borders are becoming a device of selective inclusion, which produces a decomposition of citizenship and the labour market, a hierarchy. In this frame, more flexible instrument are taking the place of the quota system, like the immigration laws proposed in France.

Migrant labour in a gendered perspective was discussed by Paola Rudan, who analyzed women's migrations as a key perspective in order to understand the contemporary transformations of reproductive work and the welfare state. It was stressed that it is necessary to go beyond the distinction between the waged work of men and the reproductive un-paid work of women, in as far as the reproductive work is growingly in itself a waged work. This means that the sexual division of labour and its patriarchal structure must be understand and faced on a transnational dimension. Devi Sacchetto proposed a discussion about the system of recruitment of migrant labour as a device of selection, division and specialization of labour across national and racial lines. Particularly, he stressed the crucial role played by the informal systems of recruitment, where repression and expulsions are fundamental instruments for disciplining and organizing migrants' labour force. In this perspective, the political problem is how to cross the borders among workers (migrant/native; regular/irregular) for the effectuality of workers struggles. Finally, Salvatore Cominu analyzed the metropolitan and local proliferation of borders through repressive devices as another instrument for the selective inclusion and the exploitation of migrant labour. He stressed the interconnection among regular, irregular or even illegal migrant labour, criticizing the rhetoric of a presumed complementarity between a skilled-native labour and an un-skilled migrant labour. This complexities and the local dimension of the borders have to be taken into the account, with the everyday struggles (often not organized nor visible) which migrants actually practice against exploitation, in order to imagine new modalities of struggles and organization. 

The conference continued with a debate among migrants and activist coming from different Italian cities. The suggestions given in the introductional speeches have been discussed looking at the practical perspective of struggles. Everybody recognized the importance of linking continuously the regular and irregular – or even legal and illegal – composition of migrant labour, thinking that the local dimension of production and the local dimension of struggles must be necessarily considered in their structurally transnational scale. Many real political questions remain open in order to continue the discussion. Above all: How to explore and cross the contradictions which are emerging in the process of unionization of migrants? How to manage the device of selective inclusion, that should be also considered as a way to reduce the spaces of struggle which have been open by the rigidity of systems like the one of the Bossi-Fini law, in Italy? In order to improve political discussion, further materials from the Turin conference will circulate in the next days, and more information will follow about the migrant's MayDay008 in Milan.