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  4. Meloni sticks to her guns at CGIL union conference

Meloni sticks to her guns at CGIL union conference

Premier thanks protesters, refuses to back down on minimum wage

(see related stories on Meloni).
    (ANSA) - ROME, MAR 17 - Premier Giorgia Meloni thanked the protesters who turned up at the CGIL congress in Rimini on Friday to give her flak and stuck to her guns on issues that she and left-wing trade union differ on, including whether to introduce a minimum wage.
    "I thank those who protest against me," said Meloni, the leader of the right-wing Brothers of Italy (FdI) party.
    "I didn't want to miss this event," she added, saying her presence was "a sign of respect to the union" after becoming the first premier in 27 years to attend the congress She added that the heckles did not rattle her.
    "I've been booed at since I was 16," she said, after a group of participants jeered her and walked out of the conference hall with their fists raised singing 'Bella Ciao', a song associated with the Italian Partisans during World War II.
    "Dialogue is necessary and useful," she added.
    "If this is the approach, there are excellent reasons to have discussions, with the strength of the ideas which each side legitimately stands by".
    The conference room was silent when Meloni reiterated her opposition to introducing a minimum wage and stood by her decision to scrap the 'citizenship wage' minimum-income benefit for the jobless, saying it had "failed in its aims".
    She lamented an upswing in political violence, criticizing the attack on the CGIL's Rome headquarters in October 2021 by far-right militants during a protest against the COVID-19 Green Pass health certificate and a recent wave of violent protests and acts of intimidation and vandalism by anarchists.
    "The trade union movement has always been engaged in the fight against terrorism," Meloni said.
    "We thought that the time of ferocious ideological clashes was behind us.
    "But, unfortunately, it seems to me that there are increasingly frequent signs of a return to political violence.
    "All the political parties, trade unions and intermediate bodies must fight together to combat this".
    She went on to defend her government's plans to overhaul Italy's tax system, which the CGIL and other unions blasted after Meloni's cabinet approved the reform plan on Thursday. (ANSA).


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