Union officials push for one-day general strike in Italy in coming months

Associated Press, Tuesday 11 June 2002,12:25 PM ET

ROME—Leaders of a Communist-backed Italian labor confederation on Tuesday pushed for another general strike in the coming months to protest the government's plans to rein in some workers' rights, Italian news agencies reported.

The meeting of CGIL leaders who were debating the possible strike call was continuing Tuesday evening.

Italian news agencies quoted a union official, Guglielmo Epifani, as telling fellow officials that there should be a new general strike for workers' “rights” and that it will probably be held in the fall.

A one-day general strike in April, Italy's first in two decades, saw millions of Italians work off the jobs to protest the resolve by Premier Silvio Berlusconi's conservative government to make it easier for employers to fire workers in some cases.

Last week, CGIL, in a separate decision, called for six hours of general strikes to be held this month and next, but the walkout would be held on varied dates, depending on the region. For example, July 4 was chosen for Lazio, the region including Rome, while June 20 was picked for Lombardy, which includes Milan, Italy's financial capital.

CGIL is boycotting talks that the government is holding with two other union confederations over the issue.

April's one-day strike caused, among other effects, the cancellation of hundreds of flights and train runs, the shutdown of banks and post offices and the closure of schools.

Berlusconi insists the reforms are vital if Italy is to stay competitive in global markets.

Many business owners complain that it is so hard to fire workers in Italy they are discouraged from hiring extra employees in boom times, for fear they'll be stuck with a bloated work force should business drop off.