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Italian truck drivers defy government order to halt strike
Published in Saudi Press Agency on 12 - 12 - 2007

Truck drivers in Italy continued to strike Wednesday
ignoring a government order for them to halt the stoppage and clear
blockades paralysing road traffic and threatening food and fuel
supplies, according to dpa.
Transport Minister Alessandro Bianchi's order issued Tuesday
evening had given truck drivers until midnight to remove their
vehicles from highway toll gates and other road access points.
The order cited the right of citizens to essential supplies,
including food and fuel, which the government said the strike was
violating.
But by Wednesday morning many of the blockades were still in place
with traffic snarled along main motorways leading in and out of Rome,
Venice, and Italy's borders with France and Switzerland, according to
news reports.
Despite warnings that police would act against those disobeying
the government order, many truck driver spent the night next to their
parked vehicles, in some cases lighting fires to keep warm.
Unions representing the truck drivers condemned the government
order to end the strike which was called to protest high fuel prices
and long working hours.
"There's an attempt to criminalize an entire category," said
FITA-CNA union representative, Antonio Migliaccio, in an interview
with private broadcaster Radio Citta Futura on Wednesday morning.
Lawyers representing the unions were "evaluating the legality of
the government's order," Migliaccio said.
Still, public opinion appeared overwhelmingly against the truck
drivers who began their strike on Monday vowing to stop work for five
days.
Television news reports have showed angry motorists stranded in
queues demanding action against those they said were holding the
country hostage to their demands.
According to news reports, by Tuesday evening some 60 per cent of
filling stations in Italy had run out of petrol and diesel, supplies
of which are normally normally trucked in.
Italy's main farming association Coldiretti warned that the strike
was preventing perishable goods such as fruit and vegetables from
reaching shop shelves, thus damaging consumers but also potentially
causing massive losses to the agriculture sector.


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