Oh let’s just all go on strike, about everythingBy
I know we all — or most of us — are all tangled up in the world’s problems, but while you’re thinking about everything that’s going wrong on either side of your front door, spare a thought for Italy.
Tomorrow, October 23, there is going to be a national strike. By which I don’t mean that the nation itself is going to strike — however one would manage that — but the nation will be dramatically affected by a very big general strike organized and imposed by three large unions for a batch of different reasons. The strike was announced on August 4, so if you haven’t come up with an alternate plan for the day, it’s not their fault.
Their stated grievance is that the government has not dealt with their requests on a number of issues. They are against workers being fired (not a theoretical concern, in the current economic situation) — in fact, they want the government to block firings — and they are also against reducing the penalties for those who cause fatal accidents, or severe injury or illness, in the workplace. They’re in favor of reducing the work-week, increasing raises and pensions, establishing a minimum wage, attaching cost-of-living increases to pay scales, and making workplaces, schools, and transport safer. Could anyone disagree with any of this? It would be like quibbling over the Ten Commandments, or the Boy Scout Oath.
The categories which will be affected by the strike are:
- Public administration (no problem there, as only five people seem to ever be working in the country at any given time, and then mostly unintentionally); the whole day. Convenient, it being a Friday.
- Schools and universities. Professors and students jubilant, parents not so much.
Public health (nurses, orderlies, ambulance drivers, perhaps even doctors); so far, no guarantee of minimum services has been given. Something will be cobbled together at the last minute, it always is.
- Firemen. Those actively scheduled to be on call at airports and elsewhere will strike only from 10 – 2 PM. Not bad, unless your fire starts during those four hours. Office people: Out all day.
- Airlines: No planes flying between 12 and 4 PM. Sorry about that connection.
- Ports: from 8 AM Friday – 8 AM Saturday. Office people: Out all day. Absolutely no ferries connecting small islands to the mainland or to each other for 24 hours. Deal with it. Read a book. Call your mom.
- Trains: There is conflicting information here. One report says that personnel assigned to actively working with the trains will strike from 11 – 3 PM (office people: out, naturally). On the other hand, the railway company says that normal service will be maintained, but considering what “normal” tends to mean in an ordinary week, it’s hard to say if the effect of a strike will even be noticed. Or if service will appear to have improved during the strike.
- And above all, PUBLIC TRANSPORT. Venice is one place where lack of buses makes a major dent in your day. Here’s what life will look like here from midnight Thursday to midnight Friday:
Transport will be cut to the very bone, which means that there will be hardly any vaporettos except during the morning and evening rush hours. Which means that if you have to get to the train station (except between 11-3) with your luggage, you’ll be walking or taking a dazzlingly expensive taxi. Need to get to the airport? Dazzlingly expensive taxi, but remember, don’t bother going between 12 – 4.
For those of us staying on home territory, anyone wanting to go to or from the Lido from anywhere will be waiting a lo-o-o-o-o-ong time for a vaporetto to appear (or taking a dazzlingly expensive taxi). On the mainland, the fact of buses going on strike can be somewhat mitigated by car-pooling. In Venice, you don’t see anyone in their personal motorboat carrying friends or stranded people around.
In Rome, though, to help deal with the masses of protesters, the trains and subways will strike only between 8 PM and midnight. Am I the only person who finds this odd?
The forecast for tomorrow is also for fog. Fun. Though I suppose if there aren’t any vaporettos or ferries, it doesn’t make much difference.
It’s true that in Venice you can reach almost anywhere fairly conveniently (if you’re not in a huge rush) on foot. Unless you’re a shaky little old person on two canes, say, trying to get to the hospital for your knee X-ray which you scheduled six months ago, or a tourist with lots of bags. No vaporettos is not amusing.
Naturally I’m totally in favor of everything the unions want, and don’t want, and so on. But there isn’t any union that I know of which would muster its troops to demand changes that would make life any easier for me.
So I’m going to protest on my own. After all, in the middle of everyone else, who’ll notice? I’ll just stand next to some disaffected welder and let fly.
So here’s what I’m against: Unscrupulous people deliberately doing cruel and ignorant things to other people; anything that costs more than $1.50; dog-owners who let their dogs poop wherever they want and don’t clean up; kids who scream, and their parents who either make them scream or don’t make them stop; chocolate-chip cookies with more than 20 calories. The people upstairs who throw their cigarette butts on the street in front of our door, and the unstable person who leaves his/her bag of garbage at the corner of our apartment.
Also: I’m against unprofessional, obtuse, malicious, devious behavior of any sort by anyone at any time; cheating and lying. Incompetence. Hypocrisy. My list could go on but I’ll stop here.
Here’s what I’m for: Kids that laugh, dogs that don’t poop, lots of money paid for hard work done well, and music of almost any type except that car-crash-torture-dungeon-hand-grenade music, whatever it’s called. A pat on the head/back/cheek for any and no reason — the person receiving it will know what it’s for.
I’m off to prepare my placard now. Will report back from the barricades or whenever it gets dark and I have to come home.