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ZURICH

Extinction Rebellion attempt central Zurich blockade

More than 200 Extinction Rebellion activists, some dressed as clowns, attempted to blockade central Zurich on Monday in a bid to force the Swiss government to heed the environmental movement's climate demands.

Police detain a demonstrator affiliated Extinction Rebellion (XR) during a protest in center of Zurich
Police officers detain a demonstrator affiliated with global environmental movement Extinction Rebellion (XR) during a protest in the center of Zurich on October 4, 2021. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

XR urged its activists to return every day at noon to block traffic at three key strategic points in Switzerland’s financial capital, including a bridge and the crossroads of the city’s main shopping street.

Students and senior citizens were among those who descended on Zurich from across the wealthy Alpine nation, unfurling banners and stretching out large sheets of blue plastic symbolising the oceans suffocating with rubbish.

Others installed a ship daubed with climate crisis slogans, “because we are all in the same boat”, one activist said.

“We have children and are worried about their future,” said Genevieve, a teacher from Neuchatel who came with her physicist husband.

Demonstrators affiliated with global environmental movement Extinction Rebellion (XR) stage a protest in the center of the city of Zurich

Demonstrators affiliated with global environmental movement Extinction Rebellion (XR) stage a protest in the center of the city of Zurich on October 4, 2021. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

“We are a little afraid of being arrested because this is the first time we have taken part in civil disobedience.”

A retired humanitarian, who did not wish to give her name, said that the prospect of being arrested “does not scare me”, adding that “everything else, at the political level, did not work”.

In June, XR petitioned the Swiss government asking it to “officially” recognise the climate emergency and mandate a citizens’ assembly on “climate and ecological justice”, warning that its activists were otherwise prepared to engage in civil disobedience.

After an hour, the police ordered activists to retreat to designated areas to clear the way for trams on Zurich’s main shopping street.

A police statement later said 134 people were held before being released.

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CLIMATE CRISIS

Italian factories on strike over extreme heat after worker dies

Italian factory workers have launched a strike after a man died while working at a automotive manufacturing plant outside Turin on Thursday.

Italian factories on strike over extreme heat after worker dies

The man, 61, fell unconscious and hit his head while performing routine tasks, according to La Stampa news daily. Efforts by colleagues to revive him with a defibrillator were unsuccessful.

The official cause of death is currently being investigated by police, but with temperatures pushing 40 degrees Celsius in parts of the country, heat exhaustion is thought likely to be responsible.

Factory workers from the local area organised an eight-hour picket on Friday outside the Dana Graziano plant in Rivoli where the man worked.

Italy is in the midst of a scorching mid-July heatwave, and most factories do not have air conditioning systems.

READ ALSO: Italy’s heatwave peaks with 16 cities on red alert as Tuscany burns

The Fiom CGIL metal workers’ union say they have recently received multiple reports of factory temperatures reaching over 35 degrees Celsius in the Piedmont area. At the Mirafiori Fiat manufacturing plant in Turin, workers have reportedly recorded highs of 40 degrees.

A previous strike called by auto parts workers on Tuesday protested the “intense pace of work” workers are required to keep up in the “unbearable heat of these past few days”.

“There are many of our members who are reporting illnesses in the factory due to the intense heat of the last few weeks,” Edi Lazzi, Fiom CGIL’s Turin general secretary, told La Stampa.

Italy does not have a nationally unified labor code, but worker’s rights are enshrined in the constitution and touched on in various laws. 

According to the site Lavori e diretti (work and rights), article 2087 of the Italian civil code requires employers to protect employees’ health and wellbeing. 

National legislation does not require companies to keep the workplace within any particular temperature range, though workplace accident insurance institute Inail recommends in summer there should not be more than a seven degree difference between indoor and outdoor temperatures.

A 2015 Supreme Court case recognised the right of workers to stop working while retaining the right to pay in excessively cold conditions.

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