Today Italy has seen its first national banking strike in 13 years as bank employees protested against plans by the ABI [Italian Banking Association] to cancel their collective work contract a year before it officially ends. Banks here, as elsewhere, are under pressure to cut costs and that, their chief executives have decided, means cutting jobs and changing contracts which offer workers a high degree of protection. The employees, naturally enough, want executives' high salaries to be cut instead and they want a guaranteed fair wage themselves. Over 300,000 bank employees could be affected by the proposed contract change.
Nobody likes bankers much anywhere at the moment but I think most of us know that our problems are not the fault of the young bank clerk we usually see behind the counter. Just to make sure of that, though, demonstrating employees have been handing out flowers to the public in an effort to show that banks really do provide a public service. Do we agree with that? I wouldn't bank on it!
I can't help feeling that the banking unions chose the date of their protest rather cleverly as tomorrow is a holiday [All Saints] and their members will get quite a nice little break. There was no counter service on Tuesday afternoon due to union meetings either. But let us not be churlish - who can blame anyone for wanting to extend a bank holiday?