ADOLFO MELUCCI, FORMER PORT WORKER
My name is Adolfo Melucci, I worked in the port for about 40 years, I performed an administrative role at the Port Company and I was also union leader in the port. I, and my colleagues from the trade unions, were among those who raised criticisms regarding the possibility of Taranto being excluded from the ports identified as the seat of a Port Authority, because Law 84 had a difficult passage. After 23 decrees, if I remember correctly, Taranto mobilised and through the complaints and protests that were made, Taranto managed to be included in the number of ports.
Law 84 to some extent, regulated the labour market in the port. previously the only organisation that was authorised to carry out loading and unloading operations was the Port Company, the historic Port Company founded in 1929. It had exclusive rights. Under Law 84 the labour market was divided between duly authorised port companies, the temporary employment companies and also service companies which have in some ways been regulated differently.
So the world of work has changed completely because before there was a sort of monopoly of operations which were in a way guaranteed by the State, because the laws that established the port companies were brought into being directly by the State. It’s a strange thing because usually cooperatives are created through the will of their members. The Port Company was created by law.
In effect, even the way of working on the docks has changed, because if you bear in mind that when the Port Company was established, the work was still done by hand. We unloaded the coal with the famous coffees, 50-60 kg, it was a very tiring job, so you also had to have the necessary physical requirements to be able to work in the port. Today no, today technology and development mean that anyone can work in the port. It is not by chance that we even have women working as dockers. Also, the development of the port work regulations, continually being updated, now pays more attention to safety, for example. We use mechanical equipment, which was not available in all ports previously.
If you consider that the first crane may have arrived in Taranto at the end of the nineteenth century, I mean, today how many means there are that help to speed up port operations. Forty years is a long time, because here I have had the opportunity to meet many people and have many experiences, to grow as a person, but above all I have understood the importance to a city of having a functioning port. We have all made some mistakes in the past, but today I believe that Taranto must reclaim its port and look ahead with confidence. But to do so, it is necessary for everyone to know the port well, both its recent and past history, which teaches us to better manage the challenges of the future.
I am an expert on the history of the port, I have collected three centuries of port history, but only for the pleasure of discovering things, stories, facts, events, people who have – over the last three centuries – administered and worked in the port, and I have discovered many curious things. Taranto got off to a bad start compared with the other ports in the north because there was a disparity in the past: after the unification of Italy, the major investments were made in the north, despite the requests, complaints and protests made by Taranto.
It was only at the beginning of the twentieth century that we began to have some funding for new port works when Genoa, Livorno and Venice had already started major investments. Since Italian unification, there has been no Italian port policy that partly balanced out and distributed the opportunities for commercial traffic. We have suffered delays and situations that have added to the workload of those who had to decide on certain issues.
The very fact that the port was so closely controlled by industrial needs also somewhat stifled other needs, something which obviously cannot and must not be the case now.
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