Riot police used tear gas and water cannon to break up a peaceful sit-in as Trieste becomes the 'No Green Pass' capital of Italy.
Several thousand people took their protest against Italy's mandatory covid Green Pass to the centre of Trieste last night after police used tear gas and water cannon against a sit-in at the north-eastern city's port.
The protest, involving dockers and their supporters, began last Friday when the Italian government introduced sweeping legislation requiring every worker in Italy to carry the Green Pass, a certificate proving the holder has been vaccinated, tested negative or recovered from covid-19.
On Monday morning riot police arrived to clear the sit-in, firing water cannon and tear gas into the crowd of hundreds of protesters seated in front of 'Varco 4', one of the port's main gates.
"We have always been peaceful. We have not blocked any access in the port of Trieste, those who wanted to work have worked" - the leader of the docker's protest Stefano Puzzer told the Quarta Repubblica TV programme - "We were there to demonstrate that our rights must be respected. Our freedom has never overridden the freedom of those who chose to go to work".
Manifestanti si tengono per mano: Trieste, sgombero porto #sgombero #Trieste #NoGreenPass pic.twitter.com/uAMjhA5YaG— Local Team (@localteamtv) October 18, 2021
There were reportedly three officers injured clashes on Monday however Puzzer denied there was any violence carried out by the dockers, saying: "There are groups clashing with the police who have nothing to do with us."
Last night the port workers took their protest to Trieste's main square, Piazza Unità d'Italia, where a hoarse Puzzer said of the actions by police: "I wonder why such a thing happened. There was no reason, just peaceful people, children, families", adding: "the images are clear".
Following lengthy talks with the prefect of Trieste, Puzzer announced that Italy's agriculture minister Stefano Patuanelli has agreed to meet the port delegation in Trieste on Saturday.
"We have half a smile," he said, adding that it had been agreed that Italy's interior minister Luciana Lamorgese would confirm the news in parliament on Tuesday morning.
"We will ask Minister Patuanelli for the abolition of the Green Pass" - said Puzzer - "We have asked that [health] Minister [Roberto] Speranza be present too."
The government has delegated Patuanelli for the talks as he is from Trieste, reports Italian newspaper of record Corriere della Sera.
Ahead of Saturday's meeting, Puzzer said it was agreed that the demonstrators would move to Porto Vecchio, the city's old port.
The arrangement in theory was for protesters to remain there only last night but it is likely they will be based there until Saturday's meeting, according to the Corriere. Some protesters spent the night camped in Piazza Unità d'Italia.
"In these days we will organise a march" - said Puzzer - "because the protest does not stop."
Matteo Salvini, leader of the right-wing Lega and former interior minister - and vocal critic of Lamorgese - asked on Twitter how a "handful of neo-fascists was allowed to upset Rome" last week while "today water cannons were used against peaceful workers and citizens."
Salvini's comments were echoed by Giorgia Meloni, leader of the far-right Fratelli d'Italia (FdL), who wrote on Facebook: "The same government that has done nothing to stop an illegal rave of thousands of stragglers, prevent the assault on the CGIL headquarters, stop illegal immigration and fight freely traded drugs and criminality... pulls water cannons out of storage to use them against striking workers."
What are Italy's Green Pass rules in the workplace?
Workers who do not have the Green Pass are not permitted to enter their place of work, with every day they miss as a result regarded as "unjustified" absence.
After five days off work, employees will be suspended and have their pay frozen, however nobody can be fired for not having the health certificate.
Unvaccinated employees can still enter the workplace but only if they undergo a covid test every 48 hours, at their own expense, with a fixed cost of €15.
Those who go to work without the health certificate risk fines of between €600 and €1,500.
About 81 per cent of Italy's vaccinable population (over the age of 12) is fully vaccinated against covid-19.
Details about the Green Pass can be found - in Italian - on the Certificazione Verde website while for official information about the covid-19 situation in Italy - in English - see the health ministry website.
Cover photo: Il Messaggero
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Italy: Trieste dockers continue Green Pass protest ahead of talks with minister
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