Transport strike slows Rome's bus and tram service; Metro OK
18 October 2013
18 October 2013
ROME - Transport service slowed across Italy on Friday as workers led by radical left-wing unions called COBAS took part in a partial transit strike against government austerity measures.
Thousands of transport workers, hospital staff, civil servants, and students took to the streets in cities from Turin to Palermo to express their disapproval of the Italian government. In Rome, many have reported that public transportation has slowed immensely, with commuters facing long waits at bus stops before they cram on board overcrowded buses. At Rome's Fiumicino airport, 143 flights have also been cancelled. However, Rome's metro remains fully operational, functioning to ensure that protesters are able to access the demonstrations.
The strike precedes a Roma-Napoli football game scheduled to take place at the Olimpico stadium on Friday night. Officials believe this will further increase incidents of violence, as these matches regularly attract violent behaviour among fans of rival teams. Tensions are also especially high given that Rome is currently in first position while Naples is in second.
Further, on Saturday an even bigger crowd of over 20,000 people is expected to descend on Rome, with protesters arriving from all over Italy. The joining demonstrators will represent leftist and anarchist groups linked to the Occupy and No TAV movements.
Rome has dispatched more than 4,000 police to ensure that no violence occurs in the streets on Friday and Saturday. So far, a group of five frenchmen have been arrested.They are reported to have been dressed in "black bloc", a tactic used to conceal one's identity. They were stopped while visiting an area that will be a sensitive site to Saturday's demonstration. Two are under investigation by France and another two have been known to participate in clashes with the No Tav.