Thursday, November 29, 2007

Sciopero! Sciopero!*

I was brought up in the Ontario of the late 40s as what they called a "red diaper baby," my father was a firm believer in the unions (though he was a manager and his shop wasn't unionized?) and a founding member of the CCF (a left-wing party that became the NDP and got Canada its National Health Plan amongst other things.) He was not a radical in any way and certainly didn't believe in the sort of strike action that involved sending a burning car into a loading dock as happened at a factory near us. He firmly believed in the rights of workers to a safe workplace and honest day's pay for an honest day's work.

Some of his desire for social democracy must have rubbed off on me and I became active in the Union when I joined Air Canada. Like him, I was never a radical but worked on Health and Safety issues and played my part in the strikes that were called during those 33 years. I remember walking the picket line the first morning of a lengthy strike: it was 0600, Bloor St in downtown Toronto and a blinding snow storm. As the three of us - we had been working midnight shift - marched up and down waving our placards, waiting for colleagues to join us, TV cameras recorded our frozen faces and valiant chants. My friend Susan was trying desperately to hide behind me because she didn't want her father, then President of Sterling Drugs, to see her on the picket line. I would love to think that anything I did bettered conditions where I worked but as I've grown older I question how effective it really was. I know in the case of one strike the only people who won where our Union Executive who got cushy jobs with another union out of it.

So why this Union and strike talk? Well a massive general strike is planned here in Italy tomorrow (November 30):
  • Airlines from 1100- 1500
  • Trains from 0900 - 1700
  • Public Transit from 0900-1700
  • Ships/Traghetti delayed 24 hours from schedule departure
  • Highway Emergency Assistance from 0700-1500
  • Car Rentals from 0900-1700
  • Four hour strike of Highway/Autostrade workers - e.g. Toll Booth collectors

Already in Rome we have had two days of work-to-rule and traffic-snarling demonstrations by cab drivers - apparently because 500 more taxi licenses were issued at the beginning of the week. Performances at some of the opera houses and theatres were cancelled - opening night of Moise at the Rome Opera, Forza del Destino in Florence and three performances at La Scala. But apparently negotiators reached an agreement with opera house staff late Tuesday night so winter seasons will begin (pax Rome and Florence) as intended.

Once again as I guest I am not in a position to comment but let's just use as an example Alitalia. Italy's airline loses an approximate EUR 1 million a day - that's a day; wouldn't this suggest that striking for higher wages and job security would come under the category of "blood from a stone?"

So tomorrow it looks like I'll not be flying, training, busing, sailing, breaking-down or car renting. It may just be the day to finally clean up what we laughingly call the office.

*Strike! Strike!

29 novembre - San Saturino

9 comments:

Auld Hat said...

I love the word Traghetti.
I have no business leaving a comment.

more cowbell said...

Holy crap. Best stock up on the wine and settle in.

Willym said...

Hat: Got a few more for you - how about: uno reggiseno imbottito.
And why would you have not business leaving a comment.

Cowbell:Hey, the minute the Entoteca goes on strike and there's no wine, I'm out of here!
how about

Doralong said...

Stock up the pantry this morning and hide out at home for the weekend..

No wine.. gives me cold chills just thinking about it!

Lorraine said...

I like how they've coordinated the schedule, though. That way no one has to strike for too long, thus not cutting into their opera listening and wine swilling.

Auld Hat said...

(head spins)

Willym said...

Okay that lovely phrase - uno reggiseno imbottito - means a padded bra - and its masculine - go figure????

BigAssBelle said...

so the italian classes are going well???

and striking . . . i, too, love the organization of it and the posted timeframes :-)

i am more and more a fan of labor unions. always have been a supporter. now see the desperate need for labor to fight against the machine of corporatism in behalf of us all. i hope some change results.

fut coins said...

I love exactly how they have matched the actual routine, although. This way nobody needs to hit with regard to too much time, therefore not really reducing to their safari hearing as well as wines swilling.

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