Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Port and Road Haulage Workers Strike as the Eurozone Shudders

Italy Peers Over the Abyss
Shipping News Feature

Yesterday port and dock workers and road haulage staff walked out to protest at Prime Minister Mario Monti’s declared austerity package. Italy looks set for a series of disputes this week similar to those seen in Greece over the past few months. A euronews report shows demonstrators parading outside the Parliament offices in Rome in a rare show of solidarity between four of the country’s major unions.

The dispute harks back the Italian general strike last June which followed by the then Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s own €45 billion scheme to balance the books by 2013 which was modified after protests as indeed the current Government has promised to do with this latest round of cuts if viable alternatives present themselves. A spokesperson for the Italian General Confederation of Labour (CGIL), the country’s most influential union said today that they intended to continue to pressure the Government to modify the terms of the package.

Mr Monti is a well respected economist and the measures he proposes are aimed at cutting a minimum of €33 billion from the budget using the now familiar tactics of raising the VAT rate, freezing public sector wages and increasing the retirement age with an additional tax on energy but in a cooperation unseen before the four largest unions have managed stoppages which affect every sector of society from highway workers to banks and public servants.

The port stoppage lasted for a mere three hours yesterday but with other strikes every day this week plus a complete stoppage of all public services just six days before Christmas there is a real threat that the country’s leaders will lose the will to continue which could initiate more resistance to a bail out and plunge the Eurozone into an even deeper crisis.

Photo: Italian PM Mario Monti