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Lombardy workers threaten to strike after government fails to shut down factories due to virus crisis

Lombardy workers threaten to strike after government fails to shut down factories due to virus crisis
Workers at metal and chemical factories in Italy’s north may go on strike this week, in protest against the government’s failure to include them on a shutdown list. Industrialists say they shouldn’t be, that the list is too long.

Three metalworkers’ unions announced they will be going on an eight-hour strike on Wednesday this week. They are protesting a government decree from Sunday that ordered the closure of businesses in Italy until early April, but that also included a long list of essential industries that will remain open. The shutdown is meant to slow the spread of the Covid-19 virus in the country.

According to Marco Bentivogli, the head of the Italian Metalworkers Federation, “more restrictive measures are needed” in the northern region of Lombardy, which suffered most from the ongoing epidemic. He said the details about the protest action were still being discussed.

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Employees of chemical producers in Lombardy plan to join the metalworkers with a strike of their own on Wednesday. And workers at several Italian aviation manufacturers already held strikes on Monday, local media reported.

Italian union leaders criticized the government decree, saying there was no apparent consistency in how businesses were sorted into essential and non-essential, and that the list deviated from what had been agreed upon last week.

Meanwhile the General Confederation of Italian Industry said the government decree is too restrictive and will take a great toll on the national economy. Compliance with the measure will cost 100 billion euro a month and disrupt some 70 percent of Italian manufacturing, the organization’s head, Vincenzo Boccia, has warned.

Many Italian businesses have reduced or fully suspended operations before the government ordered the shutdown. With the shutdown coming into full force on Wednesday, there is already a significant movement of workers from the north to southern regions, which further complicates an already difficult situation in the country.

Italy has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic with 5,476 deaths recorded up to Monday.

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