Italian workers strike against austerity cuts
Saturday June 26, 2010, 3:22 am
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MILAN (AFP) - Tens of thousands of Italian workers went on strike Friday, grounding flights and hampering the Rome metro, in a protest against
austerity cuts ordered by the conservative government.
Italy's biggest union, the CGIL, which called the strike, said more than one million workers took to the streets across cities in Italy, with 100,000
in the northern city of Bologna and 70,000 in the southern city of Naples.
Throughout the day, 48 flights were cancelled at Rome's Fiumicino airport while several others experienced delays, according to the Telenews airport
Subway lines came to a halt in Rome and Naples for four hours, with some buses not circulating in the two cities. In Milan, the three subway lines ran
normally, according to the city's transport company.
Workers on ferries to Italy's numerous islands, ports operators and highway tollbooth workers also went on strike for four hours, while truckers were
urged to strike all day.
"No one denies that an austerity plan is necessary, but we need a plan that is fair and forward looking, not just spending cuts," CGIL number two
Susanna Camusso told a rally in Bologna.
The government downplayed the impact of the protest.
"I hope this strike will be the last one of this season, given the low participation," Labour Minister Maurizio Sacconi said.
Italy's public administration ministry said 2.3 percent of civil servants took part in the strike, according to calculations based on a sample of 30
percent of public administration workers.
In a bid to clean up public finances and reassure the markets, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's government last month approved 24.9 billion euros
(30 billion dollars) of austerity cuts for 2011 and 2012.
The measures are expected to bring the deficit down to 2.7 percent of output in 2012 -- within the three percent required by the European Union --
from the current 5.3 percent.
"It's an unbalanced plan. Not even 10 percent of this plan is financed by Italy's richest," metal-worker union member Maurizio Marcelli told AFP
at a rally in Rome.
Rail transport experienced slight disruption, but national rail operator Trenitalia said trains would run regularly over medium and long-range
Workers in the northern regions of Piedmont and Liguria and the central Tuscany region will go on strike on July 2.
Italy's two other large unions, CISL and UIL, which have approved the cuts, did not join the strike.