According to statistics published in Corriere della Sera, 39 percent of the 1,339 national and local strikes in 2008 affected the public transportation sector. Although many of these strikes were minor, called by small labor unions, they nonetheless discourage citizens from using public transport, maintains Antonio Martone, president of a commission investigating strikes in the public transport sector.
As a result of the commission's findings, the Italian government has passed legislation that would apply new rules to worker walkouts. Currently, legal strikes must be announced 10 days in advance and workers must ensure the minimum services.
According to the new decree, a strike can be called only if a referendum is held and more than 50 percent of employees agree to the walkout; all employees planning on striking must inform their employers of their decision, and demonstrators cannot block traffic on railways or streets.
The decree will also introduce the symbolic ‘virtual strike' to be applied to certain ‘protected' professional categories. Should the law pass, these workers would no longer take a day off work to hold a strike, but would go to work anyway and forfeit their daily salary to a charity.
Labour unions across Italy have criticized the reforms, arguing they limit workers' constitutional rights.
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