Italy's Lombardy Workers To Strike For Tougher Coronavirus Shutdowns - 9jaflaver

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Italy’s Lombardy Workers To Strike For Tougher Coronavirus Shutdowns

Unions in Italy’s Lombardy region announced strikes on Monday to protect the health of their workers, saying a government decree temporarily shutting businesses due to the coronavirus emergency contained too many loopholes and exceptions.

Italy has suffered the world’s deadliest outbreak of the respiratory pandemic with at least 5,476 people dead as of Sunday, most of them in Lombardy, the wealthy northern region anchored by the country’s financial capital Milan.

A government decree signed on Sunday said all but “essential” businesses must close until April 3 and set out a long list of exceptions deemed vital to keep Italy’s supply chain running.

The Lombardy branches of the three main metalworkers unions, FIOM, FIM and UILM, said the list “has been excessively extended, covering areas of dubious importance” and allowing firms “excessive discretion” to apply for exemptions.

In a joint statement, they declared a one-day stoppage for March 25 for workers in all factories not directly linked to the beleaguered health sector.

The announcement was swiftly followed by Lombardy’s chemical workers, who said they would stay home on the same day.

“The decree allows a lot of firms to remain open, many without the proper guarantees and safety norms, creating conditions not agreed with us and fanning a lot of concern among workers,” said Paolo Pirani, national head of the Uiltec chemical and textile workers’ union.

Bank workers threatened a nationwide walkout, saying they were forced to work in unsafe conditions without masks, gloves and sufficient amounts of antiseptic gels. Several banks have already temporarily closed branches to sanitize them.

Many of the country’s most prominent companies have already suspended their output in Italy, including eyeware manufacturer Luxottica, luxury carmaker Ferrari and tyre maker Pirelli.The Italian-American automaker Fiat Chrysler told employees on Monday it would halt production in all European and North American plants and help with the production of masks during the coronavirus emergency, a union representative said.

The head of employers’ lobby Confindustria warned about the economic impact of the factory closures.

By shutting 70% of the country’s output, Italy will lose 100 billion euros ($107.63 billion) a month, he told Sky Italia in a television interview.

The latest state crackdown to contain the virus contagion, announced by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte late on Saturday, tightened curbs on movement by increasing police checks on Italians trying to leave their towns for non-essential reasons.

Two days earlier it banned any outdoor exercise not carried out alone and in the immediate vicinity of peoples’ homes.

Italy’s northern regions especially Lombardy have borne the overwhelming brunt of the crisis but there is concern the virus, which had infected 59,138 people as of Sunday, could spread into the poorer south where health systems are less well-equipped.

Sebastiano Musumeci, the regional president of Sicily, protested on Monday that many non-residents were arriving on the southern island on car ferries. “The national government must intervene because we Sicilians are not willing to be slaughtered like cattle,” he said on Facebook.

Source:- Reuters

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