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NAPLES, Italy — The first of several planned gas station protest strikes throughout Italy is slated to start Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Though originally planned for 48 hours over Wednesday and Thursday, some station managers will start the fuel blackout Tuesday evening, according to Italian news media reports. And the strike could go on as long as into Friday morning because some stations plan to strike for a cumulative 48 hours, and will not count the hours during which they normally are closed toward the strike clock.

But in Sicily, gas stations are slated to close for 48 continuous hours beginning 7 p.m. Tuesday, according to the ANSA news service.

Gas stations on the state highway, the autostrada, which normally are open 24 hours, are slated to strike between 10 p.m. Tuesday and 10 p.m. Thursday.

Fuel stations and their labor representatives are launching the strike in an attempt to overturn the Jan. 25 passage of a “liberalization packet,” or the government’s plan to lift restrictions limiting where, and how many, fuel stations can be built, among other businesses.

The changes, aimed at stimulating business competition, include lifting distance restrictions between similar businesses, and includes service stations, hair salons, cinemas and tobacco shops.

The packet also would allow companies to build discount fuel stations at supermarkets and shopping malls.

There are no fuel stations available on military bases for U.S. and NATO military personnel, civilians and families serving in Italy. Instead, they fuel up on the economy at Agip or Esso stations using prepaid coupons bought from the military exchanges.

While the military bases have government-subsidized fueling pumps, they are reserved for official government use.

More fuel station strikes are being planned for February, March and April, Italian media reports.


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