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Why Florence’s buses are moving at a snail’s pace

After days and weeks of mealy mouthed statements, the intentions of the government of premier Mario Monti on public ownership are now crystal clear.

Earlier this week, minister Corrado Passera declared that publicly-owned transport is ‘abnormal’ and the Government will do ‘everything’ to encourage large private firms to take over local services.

This declaration of war on the public sector by the former banker is backed up by legislation opening up municipal services to privateers that was passed by decree in January and is now going through the process of parliamentary approval.

There’s unlikely to be much, if any, opposition to mass privatisation among deputies and senators as even the ‘centre-left’ Democrats are enthusiastically seeking sell offs in towns and cities where they hold power.

Like Florence, where Blair-like Mayor Matteo Renzi, one of the rising stars of the Democrats, is planning to privatise municipal bus and tram services.

But there’s resistance to the plans.

Drivers are protesting through a literal ‘go-slow’ – taking the Bus lumaca (snail bus) through the streets of the historic city at reduced speeds – and have been out in the piazzas leafleting members of the public. Later this month, employees of the tram service will be going on strike.

And users are backing the workers through a local anti-privatisation committee, dozens of
which are springing to life again across the country after their phenomenal success in last year’s nationwide referendum on water privatisation.

A massive 26 million – 98%  – said No in this vote, which was widely seen as a clear message about the sale of all public services.

Another epic battle to protect the Italian family silver may be about to begin.

About revoltingeurope

Writer on Europe's Left, trade union and social movements @tomgilltweets or @revoltingeurope


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