General strike set to disrupt Italy’s public transport on Thursday

Italian trade unions have called for a general strike on Thursday to protest against the economic policies set out in the government's 2022 Budget Law, affecting some public services.

Strikes are planned across Italy on Thursday in response to the government's Budget Law plans.
People wearing a protective face mask are seen in a bus amid the Covid-19 pandemic, in Rome. (Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP)

Eight hours of strike action are planned for December 16th in cities across Italy in response to the Italian government’s proposed Budget Law for next year.

Unions in Milan, Bari, Cagliari, Palermo and Rome are due to hold demonstrations under the slogan “Together for justice”, according to news agency Ansa.

The CGIL (Italian General Confederation of Labour) and the UIL (Italian Labour Union) called for the move in response to what they called an “unsatisfactory” budget plan.

EXPLAINED: How Italy’s proposed new budget could affect you

The unions said they wanted the budget to be reevaluated, particularly when it comes to “taxation, pensions, schools, industrial policies, combating relocations, and combating job insecurity, especially for young people and women, and the non self-sufficient,” read a statement from CGIL.

“All the more so in the light of the resources available at this stage, which would have enabled a more effective redistribution of wealth, to reduce inequalities and to generate balanced and structural development and stable employment,” it added, apparently referring to European Union funding being made available under the Recovery Plan.

Striking workers have scheduled stoppages to public transport, which will vary from city to city.

In Milan, for example, the strike will take place between 8.45am and 3pm and from 6pm to the end of the service. In Rome, the strike will run from 8.30am to 5pm and from 8pm to the end of the service.

Where air transport is concerned, the strike is set for one shift from 7am to 10am and from 6pm to 9pm. Enac, the Italian Civil Aviation Authority, has published a list of confirmed flights throughout the strike. 

Staff on ships and ferries will also stop working, except for maintaining essential routes and connections with the minor islands.

Some train services will also be disrupted. Employees of FS Italiane Group, Italy’s national rail operator which owns Trenitalia, are planning to strike from midnight to 9pm on December 16th.

Some train services have been guaranteed to continue, however. Trenitalia has published its list of trains that will run, as has Italo.

Not all public services are affected. The public and private health sector and related services, including healthcare facilities, are exempt to safeguard citizens’ right to health in this phase of the pandemic emergency.

School staff will also not be taking part, having already gone on strike last Friday December 10th.

Environmental hygiene and postal counter workers will not be on from the strike, which means rubbish should still be collected and post offices will remain open.

While police officers “cannot go on strike”, Silp Cgil-Uil police union head Daniele Tissone told reporters, “malaise is strong in this sector and many who are not on duty on Thursday will join demonstrations” in Rome and elsewhere.

The Budget Law lays out a raft of economic reforms for 2022 as well as some extensions to tax breaks, covering pensions, household bills, income tax, equal pay and further funding for Italy’s various building bonuses.

Prime Minister Mario Draghi has previously claimed that the multi-billion euro plans will help Italy to grow over six percent next year

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Masks to remain mandatory on Italian flights after May 16th

It will still be obligatory for passengers to wear masks on flights to Italy until mid-June, despite the end of the EU-wide requirement on Monday, May 16th, the Italian government has confirmed.

Masks to remain mandatory on Italian flights after May 16th

The Italian government reiterated on Friday that its current mask-wearing rules remain in place until June 15th, reports newspaper Corriere della Sera.

This means the mask mandate will still apply to all air passengers travelling to or from Italy, despite the end of an EU-wide requirement to wear masks on flights and at airports across the bloc from Monday.

READ ALSO: Reader question: What type of mask will I need for travel to Italy?

National regulations take precedence, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) confirmed when announcing the end of the EU rules.

“Wearing face masks at airports and inflight should be aligned with national measures on wearing masks in public transport and transport hubs,” they said in a joint statement published on May 11th.

READ ALSO: Why are so many Italians still wearing face masks in shops?

“If either the departure or destination States require the wearing of face masks on public transport, aircraft operators should require passengers and crew to comply with those requirements inflight, beyond 16 May 2022.

“Further, as of 16 May 2022, aircraft operators, during their pre-flight communications as well as during the flight, should continue to encourage their passengers and crew members to wear face masks during the flight as well as in the airport, even when wearing a face mask is not required”.

The Spanish government also said on Thursday that air passengers would have to continue wearing face masks on planes.

Italy’s current rules specify that higher-grade FFP2 masks should be worn on all forms of public transport, including buses, trams, regional and high-speed trains, ferries, and planes.

Though rules were eased in some settings from May 1st, masks also remain a requirement until June 15th at Italy’s cinemas and theatres, hospitals and care homes, indoor sporting event and concert venues, schools and universities.