1.2 Jobless Zone A

Home Zone A Way of Life Jobless Zone A

The Occupational Issue

One of the first socio-economic issues facing the Anglo-American military authorities was the lack of work. A survey dated August 1945 revealed that of the 164 factories in Zone A, 98 were on the verge of bankruptcy and without any hope of receiving a bailout loan from the banks. Due to the lack of orders, even the shipyards found themselves with a large number of redundant workers. In such a context of economic uncertainty, the social and political conflict could only worsen.

In an attempt to manage the situation, the two most important measures put in place by the Anglo-American military authorities were: to create jobs – especially in the public sector – and to retrain workers.

Another fundamental measure that the Allies had to implement was matching demand with supply of work. General Order no. 4 (6 July 1945) required the establishment of Labour Offices. These institutions came into operation between August and September 1945 and were under the direct control of the Anglo-American military administration.

Erica Mezzoli
WeCanIt – University of Ljubljana


Unemployment Zone A

disoccupazione zona a GMA venezia giulia
Fig. 1.2.a – Unemployment trend in Zone A AMG-“Venezia Giulia” (Trieste, Gorizia and Pola zones).
(Erica Mezzoli, Labour Data for the Zone A-AMG Venezia Giulia and the Zone A-Free Territory of Trieste, 1945-1955 – forthcoming dataset)


Public Works

amg public works trieste
Fig. 1.2.b – Massive public works campaigns – in Trieste ironically called “Programma pala e picon” (trans: Shovel & Pick Programme) – represented the central employment policy adopted by the Anglo-American authorities.
(NŠK, Petričevič, 1947_07612-12)


Unemployment in Trieste

grafico disoccupazione trieste 1945-1955
Fig. 1.2.c – Unemployment trend in the Trieste zone from September 1945 (AMG-“Venezia Giulia”) to September 1955 (Italian Republic). Data months: September–October.
(Erica Mezzoli, Labour Data for the Zone A-AMG Venezia Giulia and the Zone A-Free Territory of Trieste, 1945-1955 – forthcoming dataset)


Restless Zone A

Labour and political action – or a combination thereof – were the two main dimensions of the conflict in Zone A. The year 1946 can be considered as the most problematic. In particular, the 12-day strike of July 1946 cannot be forgotten due to its harshness.

manifestazioni pacifiste trieste
Fig. 1.2.d.1 – “Trieste wants to live in peace”.
(Archivio Vitrotti)
Cerini a Trieste
Fig. 1.2.d.2 – Officers (cerini) of the Venezia Giulia Police Force (Polizia Civile) in action during a demonstration.
(NŠK, Magajna, 1952_2103-2)


Trieste’s Industrial Area

ezit 1949
Fig. 1.2.e – Two important projects for the occupation of Zone A date back to 1949: the industrial port and the authority for the Trieste industrial area (EZIT).
(NŠK, Magajna, 1950_1314-10)


The Shipyards as Anthropological Places

In Zone A, shipyards were much more than just workplaces. They were spaces of conflict, and of political and cultural elaboration. They were strongly identity-making environments, capable of creating a sense of belonging and of sharing not only a common past, but also the same destiny.

orchestra concerto cantieri navali trieste
Fig. 1.2.f.1 – Accordion concert in a workshop of the San Marco shipyard in Trieste, July 1947.
(NŠK, Magajna, 1947_202-1)
pubblico cantieri navali trieste
Fig. 1.2.f.2 – The audience.
(NŠK, Magajna, 1947_202-2)
soprano concerto cantieri navali trieste
Fig. 1.2.f.3 – The soprano takes the stage.
(NŠK, Magajna, 1947_202-5)


Pink-collars on War

Not that it was ever easy for girls, but there was another conflict for the pink-collar workers that arose post-war. Maintaining their jobs in the aftermath of the return of veterans and prisoners of war was extremely difficult. Sometimes these female office workers were held up as one of the causes of post-war unemployment.

Donna al lavoro primo dopoguerra
Fig. 1.2.g.1 – A pink-collar at work.
(NŠK, Magajna, Trst-1946)
Nota questione femminile
Fig. 1.2.g.2 – Major Shirk’s note on the world-wide “female question” in terms of “stealing” jobs from men in the post-war period.
(ASTs, Ufficio Regionale del Lavoro e della Massima Occupazione, b. 27)


The Post Post-war Period

Protesta dopoguerra Trieste
Fig. 1.2.g – The Anglo-American military administration offered numerous job opportunities, including for women. Its demobilization in October 1954 caused great uncertainty and frustration among the civilian personnel.
(Fototeca CMSA, Trieste – Giornalfoto, inv. F104668)