| USB union with banner reading Lower your weapons raise your wages | MR Online USB union with banner reading: “Lower your weapons, raise your wages.” (Photo: @unionesindacaledibase/Instagram)

Italian workers strike over military spending on war in Ukraine

Originally published: Morning Star on May 20, 2022 (more by Morning Star)  |

Italian workers are set to walk out tonight in a 24-hour general strike in protest against the country’s arming of Ukraine as they demanded “lower your weapons, raise your wages.

Rallies will take place across the country today in most major cities including the capital Rome with the walkout affecting both the public and private sectors.

Trade unions are angered over the government’s military spending on Ukraine which they say would be better spent on raising workers’ wages at a time when the economy is predicted to slide into recession.

The USB union has previously said that billions can be found to fund wars, but at the same time living conditions are being squeezed for millions of ordinary Italians.

“When will salaries, pensions, services, housing [and] living conditions become priorities?” the union asked.

According to the leftist Sinistra Italiana, Italian military expenditure will rise from €68 million (£58m) to €104m (£88m) euros per day, and from €25 to €38 billion every year in order to meet the 2 per cent of GDP decreed by Nato.

The party opposed a motion tabled by the far-right Lega Nord in the Italian parliament in March which overwhelmingly approved the rise in military spending in response to the war in Ukraine.

But the looming crisis has led to Prime Minister Mario Draghi considering the reintroduction of a state of emergency with half a million Italian jobs at risk due to the cutting off of Russian gas supplies.

Next year’s general election could be postponed if the situation continues to deteriorate.

Earlier this year Italian workers protested in anger after the discovery of weapons disguised as humanitarian aid bound for Ukraine at Pisa airport.

It led to calls for an urgent inquiry in the Italian parliament while workers in the port city of Genoa refused to load ships with deadly cargo.

Member of the USI-CIT trade union confederation Norma Santi told the Mesopotamia Agency that the strike was being carried out in protest against “Nato’s expansionist, repressive and militarist stance in Eastern Europe.”

The continued military aggression will lead to “severe economic devastation all over the world,” she said, calling on the government to change direction.

We demand that military spending is stopped and the budget is allocated to the urgent needs of the people especially housing, health, schools, public transport and the environment.

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