The Strike of the "Carovivere" and the Bloody Events of 1921The strike of the "carovivere" or “cost of living” dates back to March 1921.
In those years, in the land of the mining area, a person named Attilio Sassi started to make himself known. He was an anarchist and Secretary of the Labor Council. With his leadership the miners organized themselves into a sort of clandestine and spontaneous militancy of "proletarian brand."
The events of 1921 in Castelnuovo dei Sabbioni were proof of how a simple labor turmoil turned into a serious act of violence. On the 23rd of March the management of the mines had planned the dismissal of 430 workers after months of negotiations between the parties for the provision of increased cost of living allowance of 13% and its arrears for 3.600 workers, which was never respected. The prospect of bankruptcy for hundreds of families and lingering hunger became the social price to pay.
Despite the strike of the "carovivere", the Valdarnese Miners’ Union decided to end the agitation and agreed to the 430 layoffs. It was in this climate of deep discontent that on March 23, 1921, this same day a bomb went off at the Dian’ theater in Milan.
On this same day the second anniversary of the founding of the Combat of Fasci was celebrated: The "teams" of Florence were preparing to celebrate the event with a series of raids in the "red zones" and in the surrounding cooperatives. In the Valdarno mines news spread quickly about the imminent arrival of the Florentine squad. The steam siren of the Headquarters began to sound the alarm and about three thousand miners on duty took possession by military force of the whole mining area, laying siege to the management building; other workers erected barricades on the road leading to the mining area; many were armed with sticks, shotguns and dynamite sticks. Riots broke out and the director, engineer Raffo, was wounded and the engineer Agostino Longhi Baccinello of the Grosseto mines, who was visiting by chance, was mortally wounded being mistaken for a police officer.
The miners began to divide, because all this was not planned, and at the arrival of police they fled. The sergeant of Castelnuovo made some arrests on the same day and discharged the responsibilities to the union members of the Commission of Internal Mines. On the morning of the 24th, trucks of Fascists arrived from Arezzo and Florence with armored battalion of Florence police; the cooperative of workers and the people's houses of the Monastery (Cavriglia) were burned and the mining area was subjected to a raid during which some houses were set on fire. The court immediately issued several arrest warrants. Two months later, on May 21, 1923, the first day of the trial was celebrated - the so-called "processone" - against 74 defendants. On July 13, 1923, the judgment was read: 11 acquitted and 55 convicted; the sentences ranged from 2 to 30 years of imprisonment.
Among the prisoners were Attilio Sassi and Priamo Bigiandi, who will become President of the CLN and then Mayor of Cavriglia, covering other positions later to become a Member of P.C.I. Parliament in 1948.
After Giuseppe di Vittorio, the anarchist Attilio Sassi from Imola was undoubtedly the trade unionist who survived in the memory of the worker movement.
The inhabitants of the mining area of Upper Valdarno, where Sassi was active before the Red Biennium and then in the Fifties, remains a unique legacy: the sacrifice of men and women in the work, the militant antifascism, the social struggles conducted “in the darkness of the mines”, all experience inextricably linked to the name of the Imola trade unionist, a name that sounds still familiar in Valdarno. Sassi was object of sympathy and esteem of the miners, but of the attention of judicial authorities and police too. Born in 1876, he was self-taught and already active during the emigration to Brazil.
He was a secretary of the union miners of Imola and the union workers of Piacenza. He was marked an anarchist early on and for his tireless work as an organizer, journalist and lecturer. His involvement was intensified at the national level around 1914. During the war, the police had already reported the presence of Sassi in clandestine meetings held in Bologna, Piacenza, Milan, Florence and Figline, Valdarno. For this he was arrested several times.
In August 1917, in Rome, he had also met with two representatives of Russia. In 1920, after 74 days of strikes, a workers delegation led by Sassi and Virgilio Diomiri met in Rome with managers of the mines, at the presence of the representative of the Government, “the owners of the mines yielded [ ...] The victory was complete and the miners, along with the quarrymen from Carrara, the first in the world, conquered the six working hours”.
During the “processone” in 1923 in Arezzo, Sassi was sentenced to 16 years as "instigator", was segregated at Portolongone and continued to be persecuted. After Fascism, exile, resistance and the Nazi massacres, he returned to speak of social struggles in the mining area between 1948 and 1955: it was the period of self-management of working mines in response to the will of demobilization already manifested by the mass layoffs, with the violent actions of the riot against the demonstrations. "The Mining works or leave work!” it was the catchword. On the front, along with the workers, once again there was Attilio Sassi - now national secretary of the Italian Federation of Miners and quarrymen and member of the Steering Committee of CGIL for anarchism. At his death in 1957, all the leftist press remembered him as one of the most important figure for the rights of the working class.