CGIL rally: 1 million, plus 1,000 police, and PD MPs

Labour union to announce general strike against Renzi govt

(ANSA) - Rome, October 24 - As many as one million people, one thousand police officers, and a small number of dissident members of the governing Democratic Party (PD) are expected  at a major rally called for Saturday by Italy's largest trade-union federation CGIL against Premier Matteo Renzi's Jobs Act.
    The rally has been planned for several weeks as the country's most left-wing union takes aim at provisions in the Jobs Act, which is moving through Parliament and would reduce job protections for new employees.
    The CGIL will also use the rally to announce the date for the country's first general strike in 26 years against the government's labour-market reform plans, said the leader of the leftist SEL party, Nichi Vendola.
    Meanwhile, some members Renzi's PD, who have also voiced displeasure with the premier's labour reforms, have said they will join the rally including PD MP Pippo Civati who on Friday urged other PD dissidents to join in.
    On his blog, Civati said that he expected to see there another PD MP Gianni Cuperlo and urged the former secretary of the PD, Pier Luigi Bersani, to join them.
    "If, in addition to Cuperlo and to me, there was also Bersani, it would good," said Civati.
    But Bersani has said he won't join the rally.
    Cuperlo, who ran unsuccessfully against Renzi in the primary to become party secretary almost one year ago, said he would join the rally - not as a form of protest "but to listen to the workers and to always urge my government to do more and better reforms".
    Cuperlo has organized a group of left-leaning PD minority members, dubbed Sinistradem, who are opposed to the Jobs Act changes affecting Article 18 of the existing labour legislation that protects against unfair dismissal.
    In a post Friday on its website, Sinistradem said that a number of PD MPs have signed an appeal to uphold Article 18 and will reinforce that message Saturday. "We'll be there to push the government and Parliament to fix and enhance Jobs Act and Law stability," read the post.
    Meanwhile, the head of the youth branch of major employers group Confindustria said the union rally was of no value and that workers would do well to collaborate with the government.
    "We bet on our future," and on a government taking urgent action, said Marco Gay, head of the group representing employers younger than 40.
    "We are convinced that, instead of taking to the streets (Saturday) it defend ideologies, they could cooperate with us to defend employment," he said.
    Gay added that unions should consider a new phase of discussions with business.
    Rome citizens had a preview of the traffic chaos that may result from the CGIL rally when a national transport workers' strike on Friday disrupted commuters as protesters wound through the city's historic centre.
    Rallies were also held in other major Italian cities by transportation workers belonging to the USB and Unicobas trade unions protesting budget cuts announced earlier in the week.