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WATCH: Protests hit major European port of Trieste amid threats to block it completely over Italy's mandatory Green pass

Several thousand people staged a rally at the port of Trieste on Friday to protest the Italian government’s decision to make coronavirus health passes mandatory for all workers, which went into force on that day.

The port of Trieste, which is the seventh-largest in Europe and a key oil terminal in the Mediterranean, remained functional on Friday despite the dockers earlier threatening to completely block its operations.

While some colleagues remained working, a crowd of some 2,000 people, according to local media estimates, gathered outside one of the entrances to the port to once again decry the Green Pass mandate.

According to the new rules, all workers in Italy have to be vaccinated, recently recovered from the coronavirus, or have a fresh negative test to be able to do their jobs. Those without the Green Pass will be suspended without pay and fined 1,500 euros if found to be still working despite not having one. The government papers seen by Reuters suggested that some 15% of private and 8% of public sector employees in Italy are currently lacking a health pass. 

The people in Trieste, many of whom were sporting yellow vests and carried slogans, reading ‘Freedom’ and ‘No to Green Pass, no to discrimination’, acted peacefully and didn’t try to stop the cargo truck from getting into the port.

“The Green Pass is a bad thing. It is discrimination under the law. Nothing more. It's not a health regulation, it's just a political move to create division among people,” one of the demonstrators told the media.

The situation was also calm in Genoa and other Italian ports, which earlier voiced plans to support the strike by the dockers in Trieste. A small rally against the Green Pass mandate also took place in the capital Rome on Friday amid heavy police presence.

The port workers in Trieste in northeastern Italy have been critical of the initiative since it was first announced last month, calling it “not a health measure, but a measure of discrimination and blackmail that requires a significant part of workers to pay to be allowed to work.” They have staged a number of protests against the Green Pass mandate, with the largest rally gathering around 15,000 people as many of those employed in other areas also took part in the action.

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Earlier this week, the government offered unvaccinated port workers free Covid-19 tests until the end of the year, but the dockers rejected the proposal, saying that the Green Pass mandate must be dropped for all jobs in Italy.

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