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Transport strikes pile up pressure on Italy's Monti

Transport strikes pile up pressure on Italy's Monti
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Could this be the week when the wheels come off Italy’s technocrat government-led drive for reform?

The trucks blocking the road near Turin were a sign of growing exasperation with rising fuel prices and austerity measures. It was the first of several nationwide stoppages in a range of sectors expected in the coming days.

Measures to tackle Italy’s debt mountain are beginning to bite, as one trucker explained:

“A truck that uses 600-700 litres to come from the south to Milan makes a loss of 110-120 euros. Six trips per month cost more than 600 euros. The government doesn’t know how much it really costs, they just see it on television, how much a litre of diesel costs: they don’t pay have to it!”

Despite the inconvenience, at least some strike-hit motorists support the lorry drivers.

“They are doing the right thing. We must blockade Italy because 90% of the country moves on wheels. If you block the transport you stop everything,” said one commuter interviewed by reporters.

“Good, good, what they’re doing is good. They’re right even if they create problems for us, but they are right. We are all right,” added another.

In Rome taxis were idle on another day of action by their drivers. Later in the week pharmacists, petrol station staff and public transport workers are to take industrial action. The clamour against Prime Minister’s Mario Monti’s deregulation programme is growing louder, and he’s reported to be losing support in parliament. But the government insists it will press ahead with the reforms, as there is no alternative.