‘Black Friday’ strike: Italian cities brace for transport chaos this week

Here are the Italian cities affected by Friday's transport strike - and why Rome will be hit hardest.

'Black Friday' strike: Italian cities brace for transport chaos this week
Passengers cramming onto a bus in Rome's Piazza Venezia during a previous strike. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

The national strike on Friday 25th October will affect flights to and from Italy as well as public transport, including buses, trains, ferries and motorways, in and around the cties of Milan, Turin, Florence, Rome, Naples, Palermo and Catania.

READ ALSO: What are my rights if a flight is cancelled or delayed?

Italian airline Alitalia said it has cancelled some 200 flights on Friday, and other airlines expected to hit by delays or cancellations include Ryanair and Easyjet.

The national strike action has been called by trade unions protesting over pay and working conditions.

Rome is set to be hit hardest as general strike action is also planned by public and private sector employees, including by waste management company AMA, on Friday, at the same time as the general transport strike.

Unions told local media they were protesting the way public services were being run in the capital.

“It is a strike for Rome, where citizens have poor services and workers work in humiliating conditions. Enough with the degradation of this city,” a representative of the CGIL union told La Repubblica.

Amid the ongoing rubbish crisis in Rome, residents are now being urged by Ama not to throw out their trash on Friday during the strike, but to instead wait until Saturday, when Ama says collection services will resume.

The exact timing of the 24-hour strikes will vary, and some services on Thursday evening may also be affected.

Planned strike action:

  • Airlines: from 00.01 to 24.00 on the 25th.
  • Trains: rail strike from 9pm on October 24th to 9pm on the 25th.
  • Ferries: throughout Friday 25 October.
  • Motorways: strike from 22.00 on the 24th to 22.00 on the 25th.
Anyone travelling in, or flying to or from, Italy on Friday should contact their airline, train operator, or local public transport authority to confirm their service will be running.
It's not yet clear how Italy's network of toll motorways will be affected by the strike action. During similar previous strikes, traffic has been filtered through self-service toll booths, causing queues and delays during busy periods.

Transport strikes in Italy are scheduled in advance, and you can find information about planned disruptions (in Italian only) on the Transport Ministry's website.

Useful vocabulary

lo sciopero – strike

cancellato or annullato – cancelled

ritardato or in ritardo – delayed

il rimborso – refund

cambiare la prenotazione – to rebook

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Hundreds of thousands take to streets against Macron’s pension plan

Demonstrators in France took to the streets Saturday for a seventh day of protest against President Emmanuel Macron's pension reform plans, with police expecting up to a million people at rallies nationwide.

Hundreds of thousands take to streets against Macron's pension plan

Unions hope they can still force Macron to back down as parliament debates the draft law, with the National Assembly and the Senate moving towards a final vote as early as this month.

“This is the final stretch,” said Marylise Leon, deputy leader of the CFDT union. “The endgame is now,” she told the franceinfo broadcaster Saturday.

This week, Macron twice turned down urgent calls by unions to meet with him in a last-ditch attempt to get him to change his mind.

“When there are millions of people in the streets, when there are strikes and all we get from the other side is silence, people wonder: What more do we need to do to be heard?”, said Philippe Martinez, boss of the hard-left CGT

“This country’s leaders need to stop being in denial of this social movement,” said CFDT head Laurent Berger on Saturday.

Police said they expect between 800,000 and one million people at 230 planned demonstrations across France, of which up to 100,000 were likely to march in Paris.

It was the second protest day called on a weekend, with unions hoping that demonstrators would show up in greater numbers if they did not have to take a day off work.

“I’m here to fight for my colleagues and for our young people,” said Claude Jeanvoine, 63, a retired train driver demonstrating in Strasbourg, eastern France. “People shouldn’t let the government get away with this, this is about the future of their children and grandchildren,” he told AFP.

READ ALSO: 5 minutes to understand … French pension reform 

At the last big strike and protest day on Tuesday, turnout was just under 1.3 million people, according to police, and more than three million according to unions.

Several sectors in the French economy have been targeted by union calls for indefinite strikes, including in rail and air transport, power stations, natural gas terminals and rubbish collection.

The French Senate, meanwhile, early Saturday resumed debate on the reform whose headline measure is a hike in the minimum retirement age to 64 from 62.

Senators have until Sunday evening to conclude their discussions, and a commission is then to elaborate a final version of the draft law which will be submitted to both houses of parliament for a final vote.

Should Macron’s government fail to assemble a majority ahead of the vote, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne could deploy a rarely-used constitutional tool, known as article 49/3, to push the legislation through without a vote.

An opinion poll published by broadcaster BFMTV Saturday found that 63 percent of French people approve the protests against the reform, and 54 percent were also in favour of the strikes and blockages in some sectors.

Some 78 percent, however, said they believed that Macron would end up getting the reform adopted.

READ ALSO: LATEST: How strikes will affect France this weekend