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Italy: Agricultural Unions Plan General Strike to Protest Elimination of Unemployment, Maternity Benefits for Seasonal Workers

Posted to the IUF website 06-Dec-2004

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Unions organizing agricultural workers in Italy's three trade union confederations have called an 8-hour strike in the sector on December 10 to protest the elimination of unemployment benefits for seasonal rural workers in the Berlusconi government's new budget. In a joint statement, the CGIL, CISL and UIL condemned the budget and tax program and the unilateral way in which it was promulgated. Despite the government's announcement that meetings with the unions had been scheduled, the actual details of the economic program were disclosed only through the news media. Among these were spending cuts to finance reduced taxes on high incomes including the elimination of unemployment benefits for those who work in the fields from 5-7 months per year. For these workers, who earn 7-10,000 euros annually, unemployment benefits of 2-3000 euros per year represent an essential supplement to their inadequate wages. The new tax bill also severely restricts maternity benefits for women workers in agriculture by basing eligibility on the number of days worked in the two years before pregnancy.

The strike call by the agro-food unions Fai, Flai and Uila follows on the successful general strike carried out by the three confederations on November 30 to protest government economic and social policies and the new budget in particular.