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PROTESTS

Strikes in Italy cause public transport misery and flight cancellations

Some 127 Alitalia flights have been cancelled on Monday and public transport has been disrupted across the country amid a 24-hour general strike, Italian media reports.

Arrival and departure boards show delayed and cancelled trains at Rome Termini station on October 11th during a general strike.
Arrival and departure boards show delayed and cancelled trains at Rome Termini station on October 11th during a general strike. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

Italian national carrier Alitalia confirmed in a statement that 127 national and international flights had been cancelled on Monday, with a further 11 cancellations on Tuesday due to the strike action.

Alitalia said it would be switching to bigger aircraft and rebooking flights, and advised passengers who were affected “to check on which flight they have been rebooked by logging in to the website www.alitalia.com and entering their name, surname and booking code in the ‘my flights’ section on the home page.”

READ ALSO: What are my rights in Italy if a flight is cancelled or delayed?

There were no reports of flight cancellations by other airlines, though there may be some delays or disruption on the ground at Italian airports with some staff on strike.

Meanwhile the city centres of Milan and Rome were jammed with traffic as many people opted to use cars amid fears of local public transport disruption.

Milan’s metro is operating on a normal schedule, stated city transport company ATM: “The service is continuing on all underground lines. Traffic could slow down the circulation of surface lines.” 

Rome’s metro system is operating “in fits and starts” on Monday, news agency Ansa reports, with line C closed and lines A and B operating on reduced service.

Trams and other forms of public transport in Milan may face delays due to heavy traffic, the city transport company warns. Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP

Some roads and central squares in Rome are also closed to traffic on Monday because of demonstrations, including Piazza della Repubblica and Piazza Madonna di Loret.

Thousands of people are expected to march in Rome, where a heavy police presence was reported following violence on Saturday after a demonstration against vaccines and the green pass system.

Roads have also been blocked due to marches in other cities including Naples and Genova on Monday morning.

Alitalia workers in Rome hold a banner reading “All aboard. No to the ITA plan”. Photo: Tiziana FABI/AFP

The 24-hour general strike, for both public and private sector workers, was called by several of Italy’s national and regional trade unions to protest government labour and economic policies, including those on working hours and pensions, as well as calling for more investment in schools and transport.

Alitalia staff also took to the streets to protest the planned closure of the airline, which is set to end operations on Thursday and be replaced by new national carrier ITA from Friday.

The unions have stated in recent days that this is not a demonstration against the green pass, and sought to distance themselves from the violent protests seen in Rome and Milan this weekend, Ansa reports.

IN PICTURES: Demonstrators and far right clash with police in Rome after green pass protest

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PROTESTS

Calls for special police tactics to be available across Sweden

The chairwoman of the Police Association West Region has said that police special tactics, known as Särskild polistaktik or SPT, should be available across Sweden, to use in demonstrations similar to those during the Easter weekend.

Calls for special police tactics to be available across Sweden

SPT, (Särskild polistaktik), is a tactic where the police work with communication rather than physical measures to reduce the risk of conflicts during events like demonstrations.

Tactics include knowledge about how social movements function and how crowds act, as well as understanding how individuals and groups act in a given situation. Police may attempt to engage in collaboration and trust building, which they are specially trained to do.

Katharina von Sydow, chairwoman of the Police Association West Region, told Swedish Radio P4 West that the concept should exist throughout the country.

“We have nothing to defend ourselves within 10 to 15 metres. We need tools to stop this type of violent riot without doing too much damage,” she said.

SPT is used in the West region, the South region and in Stockholm, which doesn’t cover all the places where the Easter weekend riots took place.

In the wake of the riots, police unions and the police’s chief safety representative had a meeting with the National Police Chief, Anders Tornberg, and demanded an evaluation of the police’s work. Katharina von Sydow now hopes that the tactics will be introduced everywhere.

“This concept must exist throughout the country”, she said.

During the Easter weekend around 200 people were involved in riots after a planned demonstration by anti-Muslim Danish politician Rasmus Paludan and his party Stram Kurs (Hard Line), that included the burning of the Muslim holy book, the Koran.

Police revealed on Friday that at least 104 officers were injured in counter-demonstrations that they say were hijacked by criminal gangs intent on targeting the police. 

Forty people were arrested and police are continuing to investigate the violent riots for which they admitted they were unprepared. 

Paludan’s application for another demonstration this weekend was rejected by police.

In Norway on Saturday, police used tear gas against several people during a Koran-burning demonstration after hundreds of counter-demonstrators clashed with police in the town of Sandefjord.

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