General strike called to combat Renzi govt policies

CGIL, UIL set for general strike on December 12

(ANSA) - Rome, November 19 - Two of Italy's big three trade union confederations, CGIL and UIL, agreed at a meeting on Wednesday to stage a general strike on December 12 against the government's Jobs Act labour reform and its 2015 budget bill. "We reached a significant level of agreement with UIL on the budget law and the Jobs Act," said CGIL chief Susanna Camusso after a meeting with the leaders of UIL and CISL, adding that the strike would be accompanied by nationwide demonstrations. Labour Minister Giuliano Poletti called the move groundless. "I don't think the reasons are there to motivate such an important decision," the minister said on his way into the UIL national congress Wednesday.
    Poletti was slated to speak, but canceled "in light of the changed context" after UIL decided to join the general strike. When his message was read out to the assembly, the minister was heckled.
    UIL Secretary General-designate Carmelo Barbagallo rejoined that the minister's silence proved the time to strike had come.
    "Strikes can be called but also revoked if the right answers are forthcoming," the union leader said.
    "Right now I see nothing, I'm in the dark, like the blind confidence votes on enabling laws in parliament".
    The latter was a reference to the fact that Premier Matteo Renzi's highly contested Jobs Act now before the Lower House was forced through the Senate on a confidence vote.
    Also on Wednesday, Confindustria industrialists association chief Giorgio Squinzi joked that bosses may not even notice the December 12 action. "With the low levels of activity that we have right now in industry, it may perhaps be an advantage," he said with a smile, commenting on the plight of the recession-battered Italian economy. The leftwing CGIL, the biggest of the unions, had previously said it would hold a general strike on December 5 to protest against the government's Jobs Act labour reform and its 2015 budget bill, and invited both UIL and CISL to join in. The December 5 date, a Friday, had been criticised as a ploy to create a long weekend because the following Monday, December 8, is a national holiday.


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