October 25, 2019 / 4:09 PM / 18 days ago

Rome public workers strike over state of city, national strike disrupts flights

ROME, Oct 25 (Reuters) - Trade unions in Rome staged a general strike on Friday to denounce what they said was the dire management of the Italian capital by Mayor Virginia Raggi and her ruling 5-Star Movement administration.

Workers from more than a dozen firms controlled by city hall, including the public transport system and garbage collectors, walked off the job, warning that the city was falling apart.

“Three years after the election of Raggi, Rome has been abandoned. The labour market is in crisis, totally put at risk because of this council’s management,” said Ermenegildo Rossi, head of the UGL union in the capital.

Raggi was elected mayor in 2016 in a vote that was seen at the time as a major breakthrough for the anti-establishment 5-Star which went on to win 2018 national elections. She accused unions on Friday of damaging the city and its inhabitants.

“A minority of unionists are trying to hold hostage a city of 3 million inhabitants,” she said on Twitter. “The majority of citizens are tired of unjustified strikes.”

Raggi promised to revive the corruption-tainted capital when she became the first woman in Rome’s 3,000-year history to be elected mayor. However, her rule has been marked by ferocious infighting and constant upheavals within her own team.

Rome itself has also stumbled from one crisis to another, with garbage regularly clogging the streets and the transport system plagued by repeated woes. Dozens of buses have caught fire because of poor maintenance and city-centre metro stations have shut down for months because of malfunctioning escalators.

5-Star blames decades of incompetence and corruption for Rome’s myriad problems, saying it will take years of hard work to sort out the mess.

A national transport strike affecting air traffic control, ground handling services and some airline staff coincided with the Rome stoppage, adding to travellers’ problems in Italy.

Alitalia said it had to cancel some 240 flights on Friday, while low cost airlines such as Ryanair and EasyJet also had to pull numerous flights because of the labour dispute. (Reporting by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

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