The National Society of Mutual Benefit Society Cesare Pozzo and the Foundation Cesare Pozzo for Mutuality owe their name to one of the first presidents of the society.
Cesare Pozzo was born on 1st January 1853 in Novi Ligure, at age 21 was taken by the Railways of Northern Italy as a stoker in the deposit of Pontedecimo. He was then promoted to machinist and participated in the first meeting of the Mutual Benefit Society between Railway Machinists and Stokers of Northern Italy Railways, founded in Milan in 1877. In 1886, with the support of a group of young drivers critical to the traditional leadership, he was elected president of the Mutual Benefit Society.
He immediately began his work bringing order and transparency in the financial statements of the Society and adopting measures which could encourage participation and internal democracy. Under his presidency the Mutual Benefit Society had an attitude much more adventurous and open to the claims and struggles of the labor movement. Meanwhile, Cesare Pozzo carried out an intense publishing activity and deepening of social and political issues. Pozzo passed from the initial Giuseppe Mazzini’s ideas to those anarchist, finally joined with enthusiasm and commitment to the socialism.
Result of his activities are continuing punitive transfers submitted by the railway company. Also for this reason, in 1890 he was forced to resign the presidency of the Mutual Benefit Society. On behalf of the Machinists and Stokers, in 1892 to participated in the founding congress of the Italian Socialist Party. He was also a major player in the birth of the League of the railwaymen, the first trade union organization among railway workers, which joined the Italian Socialist Party. In May 1898, the reactionary government of General Pelloux unleashed repression. All organizations of the labor movement, including railway workers were outlawed. In Milan, the army fired artillery into the crowd and occupied the house of the railwaymen in Via San Gregorio. Cesare Pozzo, to whom the work and intense study had resulted in forms of nervous exhaustion, could not resist the pain of seeing destroyed everything he had painstakingly helped to create. On 15 May 1898, in Udine, committed suicide by throwing himself under a locomotive.
Il tormento di un'idea : vita e opera di Cesare Pozzo
Dal sindacato al socialismo (1853-1898)
di Stefano Maggi
Milano : F. Angeli, 1998