Strike looms at U.S. bases in Italy
July 4, 2010
NAPLES, Italy — Two leading Italian labor unions have called for a 24-hour strike against all U.S. bases in the country starting Wednesday morning, with protests that could hamper access to the installations.
Capt. Robert Rabuse, commanding officer for Naval Support Activity Naples, warned in a town hall meeting held last week at the support site in Gricignano, one of the protest targets, to expect disruptions.
“In the past when we’ve had strikes, they were peaceful,” Rabuse told residents. “They’ll impede the access to the installation somewhat but the carabinieri and polizia will be out there supporting us.”
Both the support site and Capodichino bases in Naples will remain fully functional, he said, though some services might be reduced depending upon how many local employees participate in the strike.
Protesters including senior officials from the two unions, CISL FISASCAT and UILTUCS-UIL, also are expected to show up at the main operational base at Capodichino.
Gennaro Di Micco, a spokesman for CISL FISASCAT, said strikers will begin showing up outside base gates around 5 a.m.
In February, the Navy announced the elimination of 135 jobs in Naples and the Navy base of Sigonella, Sicily — most of them held by Italians — across several base departments, including public works, Fleet and Family Support Services and Morale, Welfare and Recreation. All of the cuts will be made by Sept. 30.
Union officials said employees were upset not only by the job cuts, but also by the fact that the February announcement left little time to find other jobs.
“We all need work — our problems are your problems,” said Di Micco, who has worked at the Capodichino base for 26 years.
Di Micco couldn’t estimate how many protesters were expected, but said it “could be thousands.” Past protests have included union members who were not necessarily affected by job-related issues but sympathetic to those who were.
Around 4,500 Italians are employed at U.S. military installations throughout Italy, including Sicily, Di Micco said. He said the two unions represent more than 6 million workers throughout Italy.
The unions plan another strike protesting the job cuts July 14 at government offices in Rome.