By Simon Basketter
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Fresh strikes for coronavirus safety in Italy

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Issue 2698
Italian health workers take part in a stoppage
Italian health workers take part in a stoppage (Pic: USB )

Workers in Italy are resisting bosses’ attempts to benefit from the ­coronavirus crisis.

Metal workers in Lombardy and Lazio in ­northern Italy held a 24-hour strike on Wednesday of last week.

They were protesting over having to work at companies not considered essential during the outbreak.

Textile and chemical workers also struck.

Two weeks ago a wave of unofficial action brought shutdowns and improved safety for workers.

The government and unions sat round the table and hammered out a deal to keep business going.

Prime minister Giuseppe Conte has been adamant that, “Italy does not stop.”

Some 80 industries and an estimated 12 million workers were designated essential. Despite warm promises to the unions, keeping business going has been the order of the day.

In Lombardy, metal workers’ unions protested that the list of “essential” industries and workers had been “excessively extended, covering areas of dubious importance”.

Paolo Pirani, head of the Uiltec chemical and textile workers’ union, said, “The decree allows a lot of firms to remain open, many without the proper safety norms. It creates conditions not agreed with us and fans a lot of concern among workers.”


The metal workers’ strike came amid repeated walkouts at Amazon plants, including the giant Torrazza Piemonte facility, and threats of a walkout by petrol station attendants and owners.

At the time of writing, the government had managed to keep the petrol stations open.

The crisis has triggered renewed walkouts as workers demand shutdowns and improved safety measures.

Workers at the shipbuilder Fincantieri in Liguria, where a worker tested positive for Covid-19, have been on strike since 19 March.

The action has spread to other company ­dockyards in the area.

Workers at the Ilva ­steelworks in the southern region of Puglia declared a ten-day strike due to lack of protective equipment.

One of the smaller union federations, Unione Sindacale di Base, also held a general strike ­throughout Italy to push for all non?essential industries to close.

It has several hundred thousand members mainly in logistics companies, such as Amazon and TNT, and on farms. The action was backed by all the left parties that are not in government.

The union federation also called a symbolic ­one?minute stoppage for emergency workers, which had a take up beyond the union ­including among firefighters and ­medical staff.

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