Throughout Italy millions of workers stopped work on Wednesday (24 July) for varying periods in protest against the Government's austerity measures.
Throughout Italy millions of workers stopped work on Wednesday (24 July) for varying periods in protest against the Government's austerity measures. The stoppages had been worked out among the leaders of the three main trade union federations, and consequently they were staggered to prevent a full-scale disruption of industry.
The unions intended that their action should emphasise two main points to the Government. They wanted to underline their objection to the Government omitting any serious attempt to tax higher income groups in its latest economic measures; and they wished to draw attention to their concern over the Government's tight credit policy.
During the day buses, trams and underground trains stopped for three hours in most cities, though ordinary train services were not affected. At Rome airport, Alitalia Airline flights were suspended for four hours, with ground staff also joining in the stoppage.
Industrial workers stopped work for up to four hours, and the stoppage of building workers was due to last all day. In most major cities there were massive protest parades and meetings. Other sectors involved in the staggered action were bank clerks, agricultural labourers, traffic services were maintained.
Many of the measures of which the unions are critical are already in force, and it is not clear whether, having now made their protest, they will grudgingly accept them. With many factories shutting down for the summer holidays, the unions are expected to reserve their position until the autumn.