Italy: Millions of workers bring Italy to a halt

Last Friday, 25 November, a general strike against budget cuts paralysed Italy.

Demonstrations were held in towns and cities across the country. Bus, rail and tram workers struck for at least 4 hours. Only a few trains ran and air traffic controllers caused 200 Alitalia flights to be grounded. Post offices, universities and government offices were closed all day. Hospitals were covering only emergencies. Banks were closed for at least four hours and schools for at least one hour – at the beginning or end of the day.

This was the sixth general strike organised by the three major trade union federations in less than five years of the right-wing Berlusconi government. It was the biggest show so far of opposition to the anti-working class budget drawn up for 2006 and the failure of the government to generate any growth in the economy. Demonstrations across the country showed the continuing hostility towards the government in the run-up to a general election in April next year.

At 20.30 throughout Italy, simultaneous renderings of the Requiems of Verdi, Mozart and Brahms were played in protest at the destruction of public services by Berlusconi and his gang and in the Ducal Palace of Genoa, a special concert was held including Rossini’s ‘Thieving Magpie’!

This general strike is followed on Friday, December 2, by all-out action of engineering workers organised in Fiom, a section of the Cgil trade union federation. As the country slides further into economic and social chaos, polls show a majority in favour of the centre left coalition to replace the Berlusconi government. But full-blooded socialist policies are needed and not a new version of the last Olive Tree government which, through introducing its own neo-liberal policies, opened the way for the present hated right-wing government.

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