NAPLES, Italy — Italian labor union officials called off two planned work stoppages after U.S. officials agreed to sit down at the negotiating table, said a labor union representative in southern Italy.

“We didn’t solve our problems and we’re still angry with the Americans, but we canceled the strikes hoping that the [upcoming] meeting will be the solution to our problems,” said Biagio Montefusco, a union leader who represents Italian employees who work at bases in the Naples region and south in Naval Air Station, Sigonella, Sicily.

“Once they said they would have a meeting, we didn’t think it was logical to continue to strike. It is not logical to have people lose more money,” he said. Workers are not paid for the hours away from their jobs when they strike.

A meeting between Italian labor union leaders and representatives of the U.S. Joint Civilian Personnel Committee is planned for Feb. 18 in Rome.

The “JCPC welcomes the opportunity to increase communications with unions representing the Italian work force as well as continue to explore opportunities for addressing mutual concerns,” said Rondy Waye, the force civilian personnel director and chairman of the JCPC in Italy.

A JCPC, made up of U.S. officials from the various military services, is established in each country where U.S. forces have bases and employee local nationals.

Last Friday, hundreds of Italian employees went on strike in the first of what were three planned strikes, marching to bring attention to growing complaints such as inadequate pay and pensions and pending layoffs. Two more stoppages were planned.

About 4,400 local nationals work on U.S. military facilities in Italy, and are represented by one of two unions. Italian workers say they are seeking improvements to pension plans, want a pay scale that mirrors their American counterparts’ general schedule pay scale, which also rewards good work, and a stop to the planned elimination of 123 positions throughout Italy.

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