Five hurt in Rome jobs protest clashes

Skirmishes broke out between Italian police and metal workers protesting job cuts in Rome on Wednesday, fuelling tensions between Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's government and trade unions.

Five hurt in Rome jobs protest clashes
Terni steel workers and their families pictured earlier this year. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

Several hundred people were protesting in front of the German embassy in Rome against cuts expected to hit over 530 employees at the Terni steel works, owned by German group ThyssenKrupp, when clashes broke out. Up to five demonstrators were lightly hurt, according to Italian media reports.

"The government should give answers not bludgeon workers," said Susanna Camusso, head of the CGIL, Italy's largest trade union.

"Half the country is going from bad to worse and if people protest they are charged at by the police," she said, adding that she would visit those hurt in hospital.

Her comments came after days of increasingly heated spats between the unions and the government over Renzi's plans to overhaul the job sector – in particular by make it easier for companies to fire workers.

The job market is a particularly sore topic in the eurozone's third largest economy, which is struggling to stave off its third recession in six years.

Youth unemployment stands at a record 44.2 percent and those who do manage to find work are often hired on temporary contracts which offer little in the way of security or benefits.

Renzi's measures were given the green light by the upper house of parliament after the prime minister turned the vote into a confidence vote on the government.

But they still need to be adopted by the lower house and a protest in Rome on Saturday to block the most controversial aspects of the reforms drew one million Italians from across the country, according to the organizers.

In a rare attack on a centre-left government – which is historically an ally of the unions – Camusso took to a podium in front of thousands in the Italian capital to denounce the plans and announce a general strike.

The 39-year-old premier hit back, saying "the era when a protest can block the government and the country is over."

And on Monday he launched another attack, saying it was "incredible that Camusso says we must negotiate. Yes, the unions must negotiate, but with businesses. Unions do not negotiate with the government, which has no obligation to ask for permission."

"Laws are not written by unions, but by parliament. If trade unionists want to negotiate, they should get themselves elected," Renzi said.

Watch a video of the protest:

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Body of missing American tourist found in Rome’s River Tiber

The body of a missing 21-year-old tourist was found in the River Tiber on Thursday morning, according to media reports.

Body of missing American tourist found in Rome's River Tiber

Elijah Oliphant, from Dallas, Texas, was on holiday with his family in Rome when he went missing several days ago.

Oliphant’s parents reported his disappearance after he left his hotel room shortly after midnight on May 24th and did not return.

Hotel security footage showed him leaving the premises wearing a white undershirt and pyjama bottoms, which he was wearing when he was found.

Oliphant’s corpse was reportedly spotted by passersby near the Ponte Sisto bridge in Rome’s Trastevere district around 10am on Thursday morning. His body was positively identified by his parents.

Members of the fire brigade and river police who recovered the body say there were no obvious signs of violence, but an autopsy will be conducted to determine the cause of death. Trastevere police are reportedly investigating the matter.

The Oliphant family had arrived in Rome for a holiday on May 23rd. When Elijah went missing the following day, his parents launched an urgent appeal to help find their son.

His disappearance was featured on the missing persons television show, Chi l’ha visto (‘Who’s seen them?’) on May 25th.

Several foreigners have been found drowned in the Tiber in recent years, though there are no indication that any of the incidents are linked.

In 2016, the body of 19-year-old American student Beau Solomon was recovered from the river.

Rough sleeper Massimo Galioto was charged involuntary manslaughter in the case, but was ultimately acquitted in 2020.

Prosecutors said that Galioto pushed Solomon in the course of a violent argument. Galioto’s defense team acknowledged that the two had argued but said the student had accidentally slipped.

In May 2019, 37-year-old Imen Chatbouri, a former athletics champion from Tunisia, was found dead in the Tiber after a night out. CCTV footage later showed she had been pushed from the Ponte Sisto bridge.

A then-26-year-old man whose advances she had rejected earlier that evening was convicted of her murder in November 2021.