Italy braced for general strike on 16 December

Trade unions call strike against government's "unsatisfactory" budget.

Two of Italy's largest trade unions have called for a general strike on Thursday 16 December in protest over the 2022 budget plans of premier Mario Draghi.

The CGIL and UIL labour unions declared the planned budget "unsatisfactory" in relation to a range of issues including taxation, pensions, schools and industrial policies.

In a statement the unions said their dissatisfaction with the budget was all the more marked in light of the available economic resources "which would have allowed a more effective redistribution of wealth, reduce inequalities and generate balanced and structured development, and stable employment".

The strike will affect local and national public transport, including Trenitalia services from midnight to 21.00, with services guaranteed to run as normal from 06.00 to 09.00 and 18.00 to 21.00.

There will be disruption to Italo rail services from midnight until 21.00 on 16 December, with possible inconveniences also caused to passengers travelling by air or by sea.

The strike will hit local public transport in the major cities too, including Rome, Milan, Turin and Naples.

The capital's buses, trams and subways operated by ATAC are at risk for the entire day although services are guaranteed during rush-hour periods, in the morning until 08.30, and from 17.00 to 20.00.

The strike is not expected to affect health, schools or post office services.

CGIL and UIL will stage a national demonstration at Piazza del Popolo in Rome, at which the unions' respective leaders Maurizio Landini and PierPaolo Bombardieri will speak.

There are also rallies planned in Milan, Bari, Cagliari and Palermo on 16 December.

Government sources have defended Draghi's "highly expansive" budget plans, currently being debated by parliament, with "facts, measures and significant resources" devoted to workers, families and pensioners, reports news agency ANSA.

Members of Italy’s third main trade union, CISL, will not be participating in the 16 December strike.

The union's leader Luigi Sbarra said in a statement last week that he considered it "wrong to resort to a general strike and radicalise the conflict in such a delicate moment for the country" whose economy is still grappling with the effects of the pandemic.

Photo Il Mattino