General strike set to disrupt Italy’s public transport on Thursday

Italian trade unions have called for a general strike on Thursday to protest against the economic policies set out in the government's 2022 Budget Law, affecting some public services.

Strikes are planned across Italy on Thursday in response to the government's Budget Law plans.
People wearing a protective face mask are seen in a bus amid the Covid-19 pandemic, in Rome. (Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP)

Eight hours of strike action are planned for December 16th in cities across Italy in response to the Italian government’s proposed Budget Law for next year.

Unions in Milan, Bari, Cagliari, Palermo and Rome are due to hold demonstrations under the slogan “Together for justice”, according to news agency Ansa.

The CGIL (Italian General Confederation of Labour) and the UIL (Italian Labour Union) called for the move in response to what they called an “unsatisfactory” budget plan.

EXPLAINED: How Italy’s proposed new budget could affect you

The unions said they wanted the budget to be reevaluated, particularly when it comes to “taxation, pensions, schools, industrial policies, combating relocations, and combating job insecurity, especially for young people and women, and the non self-sufficient,” read a statement from CGIL.

“All the more so in the light of the resources available at this stage, which would have enabled a more effective redistribution of wealth, to reduce inequalities and to generate balanced and structural development and stable employment,” it added, apparently referring to European Union funding being made available under the Recovery Plan.

Striking workers have scheduled stoppages to public transport, which will vary from city to city.

In Milan, for example, the strike will take place between 8.45am and 3pm and from 6pm to the end of the service. In Rome, the strike will run from 8.30am to 5pm and from 8pm to the end of the service.

Where air transport is concerned, the strike is set for one shift from 7am to 10am and from 6pm to 9pm. Enac, the Italian Civil Aviation Authority, has published a list of confirmed flights throughout the strike. 

Staff on ships and ferries will also stop working, except for maintaining essential routes and connections with the minor islands.

Some train services will also be disrupted. Employees of FS Italiane Group, Italy’s national rail operator which owns Trenitalia, are planning to strike from midnight to 9pm on December 16th.

Some train services have been guaranteed to continue, however. Trenitalia has published its list of trains that will run, as has Italo.

Not all public services are affected. The public and private health sector and related services, including healthcare facilities, are exempt to safeguard citizens’ right to health in this phase of the pandemic emergency.

School staff will also not be taking part, having already gone on strike last Friday December 10th.

Environmental hygiene and postal counter workers will not be on from the strike, which means rubbish should still be collected and post offices will remain open.

While police officers “cannot go on strike”, Silp Cgil-Uil police union head Daniele Tissone told reporters, “malaise is strong in this sector and many who are not on duty on Thursday will join demonstrations” in Rome and elsewhere.

The Budget Law lays out a raft of economic reforms for 2022 as well as some extensions to tax breaks, covering pensions, household bills, income tax, equal pay and further funding for Italy’s various building bonuses.

Prime Minister Mario Draghi has previously claimed that the multi-billion euro plans will help Italy to grow over six percent next year

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EXPLAINED: How will the tourist-control system work in Venice?

Venice is introducing a new system to discourage day-trippers in hopes of curbing problems with overtourism in the popular hotspot. Here is what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: How will the tourist-control system work in Venice?

After years of discussing a possible “tourist tax”, the city of Venice has confirmed it will make day-trippers pay from €3 to €10 for access to the city centre starting on January 16th.

Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro said the goal of the new tourism fee is to discourage day tourism at certain times of the year and encourage overnight tourism. Day-trippers will have to pay a fee, but those who stay overnight continue only to have to pay the city tax of €2 to €5, according to a government press release.

The Commission and the City Council will now examine the regulatory text for the final green light scheduled for the summer.

“We are the first in the world to introduce this system, and we are aware that not everything will work well from the beginning, but we will be ready to improve in the course of work. We want to guarantee the tourist the best quality of the visit and make sure that the city is able to give visitors all the services they need”, said Tourism Secretary Simone Venturini.

READ ALSO: After flooding and coronavirus, is it time Venice stopped relying on tourism?

How much will I have to pay?

The contributo di acesso, or access contribution, will cost from €3 to €10, depending on factors such as tourism numbers for the day and season.

The city will determine a certain threshold of tourists, after which people will be required to pay higher sums. Travellers are encouraged to book in advance to avoid price increases.

Does the payment have to be made in advance?

The government said that nobody would be denied entry to Venice, meaning a pre-registration is not necessary. However, the mayor said that those who book their visit in advance would be “rewarded”. The reward will likely discount the fee.

How will the system work? Where do I pay?

According to the City of Venice, the payment is an alternative to the city tax. It will be required from every person that goes to the old city centre of Venice, as well as other major tourist destinations and islands in the region.

READ ALSO: 16 surprising facts about Venice to mark 16 centuries of the lagoon city

A single payment guarantees access to the old town and the smaller islands.

Tourists will be able to pay through an online and “multilingual” platform where they will receive a QR code to present in case of controls. Tickets should also be available to buy in connection with public transport – so if you are arriving by train, it will be possible to buy the train ticket and the entry pass together.

Who is excluded or exempt from the payment?

There are several exceptions to the payment, according to the website. Among them are residents from the Comune di Venezia, those who work or study there, and those who own homes in the city.

Additionally, exceptions include those born in the Comune di Venezia, children under six years of age, people with disabilities and their accompanying person, public workers, volunteers, people visiting family members, prisoners, or attending funerals, and many others.

Residents of the Veneto region “up to the thresholds that will be set by a specific Council resolution” are also exempt.

Those who stay overnight and, therefore, already pay the city tax through their hotel or short-term rental booking are also exempt from the fee.

The city of Murano, in the metropolitan region of Venice (Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash)

What about people arriving on cruises?

Venice is a very popular stop for cruise ships and people visiting the city on a cruise tour will also have to pay the fee as they disembark in the old town. However, the City of Venice said they might determine a lump-sum measure in agreement with the relevant carriers.

READ ALSO: OPINION: Why more of Italy’s top destinations must limit tourist numbers

Which smaller islands are included?

Only one ticket and payment is required for those travelling to multiple islands, including Venice. The islands that are part of the group are:

  • Lido di Venezia
  • Pellestrina
  • Murano
  • Burano
  • Torcello
  • Sant’Erasmo
  • Mazzorbo
  • Mazzorbetto
  • Vignole
  • S. Andrea
  • La certosa
  • S. Servolo
  • S. Clemente
  • Poveglia

What if I simply don’t pay?

If you fail to produce proof of payment or that you are exempt from the fee, the sanction is from €50 to €300. The fine is the same in the case of people making false statements trying to obtain exemptions or reductions.

Additionally, visitors who don’t pay in advance will have to pay the full €10 fee.

For more info click here.