Italian Travel Disruptions Amid Union Strike Over 2024 Budget

Il segretario generale della Cgil, Maurizio Landini e il segretario della Uil Pierpaolo Bombardieri.

Italian citizens experienced travel disruptions on Friday due to a strike initiated by transport workers and public sector employees belonging to two major unions, protesting against the government’s proposed budget plans for 2024.

The strike initially aimed for a national stoppage across transportation services, but Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini intervened, using his authority to shorten the strike period to four hours—from 9 am to 1 pm (0800-1200 GMT). Notably, air travel remained unaffected by the strike.

In cities like Rome, commuters like Clarissa Giovannini, residing on the city outskirts, adapted by starting their journeys much earlier to bypass the strike. “I left home well ahead of my usual time and thankfully caught the train,” she shared.

Train tickets for departures preceding the strike were predominantly sold out, leading to higher-than-average prices for the remaining available seats.

The CGIL and UIL unions spearheaded a general strike in Italy’s central regions, accompanied by a broader walkout by public sector workers nationwide. Additionally, further regional protests are slated to unfold over the following two weeks.

CGIL leader Maurizio Landini criticized Salvini’s intervention as an unprecedented infringement on the “right to strike,” stating this in an interview with daily la Repubblica.

Salvini, who also serves as the transport minister, defended his decision, emphasizing his responsibility to ensure Italians’ ability to conduct their daily affairs during the strike period.

In Rome’s central Piazza del Popolo, a few thousand striking workers and union representatives convened to protest against Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s right-wing government.

Similar demonstrations occurred in various other cities across Italy, including Florence, the port towns of Genoa and Livorno, and Milan.

The unions accuse the government, in power since last October, of neglecting measures to shield workers and pensioners from the adverse effects of rising prices. They attribute these issues to the government’s focus on appeasing its core supporters ahead of the upcoming European Parliament elections in June.

Pierpaolo Bombardieri, leader of the UIL, demanded higher wages, enhanced job security, and fiscal reforms “for a more equitable society with reduced inequality.”

Despite concerns about the nation’s strained public finances, Italy’s government sanctioned a budget for the upcoming year, incorporating measures totalling around 24 billion euros ($26 billion) in tax cuts and increased expenditure.

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