Italy’s broadcaster RAI holds 24-hour strike against the ‘stifling control’ exercised by the far right Meloni government

Italian journalists at Italy’s public broadcaster RAI demonstrate against the Meloni government and its attempt to turn the broadcaster into a ‘mouthpiece for the government’

JOURNALISTS at Italy’s public broadcaster RAI held a 24-hour national strike on Monday to protest against the ‘stifling control’ exercised over their work by far-right prime minister Giorgia Meloni’s government, the journalists’ union Usigrai said in a statement.

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) joins its Italian affiliate, the Italian National Press Federation (FNSI), in giving its full support to the strikers.
The Usigrai union has criticised political attempts ‘to turn RAI into a mouthpiece for the government’.
This is one of the main grievances behind the 24-hour strike that began on 6 May.
Other reasons include staff shortages, the unilateral cancellation of a collective agreement, and the cancellation of anti-fascist Italian author Antonio Scurati’s Rai talkshow appearance, to mark the 25th April national holiday, which celebrates Italy’s liberation from fascism.
In a video message broadcast on Sunday night, Usigrai said: ‘We prefer to lose one or more days of pay than to lose our freedom, convinced that the freedom and autonomy of the public service are a value for everyone. And Rai belongs to everyone.’
In response, RAI management accused the journalists of striking for ‘ideological and political reasons’ that ‘have nothing to do with workers’ rights’.
The FNSI General Secretary Alessandra Costante and the FNSI President, Vittorio Di Trapani, reacted immediately: ‘This is a very serious act to conceal what is really happening in the public service.
‘Accusing hundreds of colleagues of spreading fake news to damage the company is a very serious act as well as a mass distraction operation to hide what is really happening in the public service media.’
EFJ President Maja Sever said: ‘For years we have been calling for greater independence for public broadcasting in Italy.
‘Instead of following the spirit of the new European Media Freedom Act, which will consolidate the independence of public broadcasters in Europe, the Italian government is engaging in a political capture of RAI, in defiance of the right of Italian citizens to access free, independent and pluralist information.’
The EFJ and the FNSI stand alongside RAI journalists and media workers and supports Usigrai’s demands which led to the strike.
Meanwhile, five workers have been killed in an accident at a sewage treatment plant near the southern Italian city of Palermo, on the island of Sicily.
Another worker was found unconscious and taken to hospital.
The deaths are the latest in a series of workplace fatalities across Italy which have been causing anger among workers and trade unions.
The workers were found unconscious and not wearing masks, raising concerns about safety protocols at the facility at Casteldaccia.
They are reported to have succumbed to toxic gas poisoning, with one member of the team narrowly escaping the deadly fumes to raise the alarm.
Giovanni D’Aleo said: ‘I heard them screaming but couldn’t do anything to save them.’
The men had been working in a 5-square-metre underground tank accessible by a hatch at street level.
At the time of the accident, there had been a concentration of toxic gas 10 times higher than the danger limit.
When firefighters arrived at the plant of Casteldaccia, to the south-east of Palermo, seven workers were inside the facility.
They retrieved the bodies of the five dead workers and rescued another in serious condition. The other man was found unharmed.
There has been no official statement from AMAP, the regional group responsible for wastewater treatment in the area.
The accident took place just a few weeks after an explosion at a hydroelectric plant near the northern Italian city of Bologna, resulting in the death of seven workers during maintenance operations.
Meanwhile, in an unprecedented move, over 20 leaders of major trade unions across Europe, representing over eight million workers, are calling on European data protection authorities to ramp up oversight over Amazon’s abusive – potentially illegal – data surveillance practices.
This collective initiative underscores a growing concern about the harms of Amazon’s practices on workers’ rights and workplace safety.
The union leaders, from 11 European countries where Amazon’s warehouse and delivery operations employ a significant number of workers, are raising alarm regarding the company’s pervasive use of surveillance and algorithmic management.
These invasive measures include the extensive use of hand scanners, activity monitoring software, video cameras, GPS devices and other tracking technologies. Recent surveys have shown this surveillance’s serious consequences on workers’ mental and physical health.
Highlighting recent regulatory actions, the union presidents cited the decision by the French data protection authority (CNIL) on December 27, 2023, which found Amazon France Logistique in violation of several General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) principles.
The CNIL imposed a substantial fine of 32 million euros for creating an ‘excessively intrusive system’ for monitoring employee activity and performance, along with penalties for inadequate video surveillance protocols.
‘We ask you, European data protection authorities, to follow France’s example by investigating the legality of Amazon’s use of worker data and taking steps to stop practices that are in breach of the law.
‘We ask that you ensure Amazon complies with European legislation that protects workers fundamental rights and freedoms, including privacy and control of their data,’ the signatories state in a letter submitted to data rights authorities across the EU.
This is not Amazon’s first confrontation with European data privacy laws. In 2021, Luxembourg’s data protection authority issued a 746 million euros fine against the corporation for similar surveillance practices involving European consumers, marking at the time the largest fine in the law’s history.
Christy Hoffman, General Secretary of UNI Global Union, said: ‘Amazon’s relentless surveillance is not just about monitoring; it’s about control and intimidation.
‘Such draconian measures strip our workers of their dignity and rights under the guise of increased productivity. We demand immediate change and accountability.’
The unions are urging all European data protection authorities to emulate France’s proactive stance by investigating the legality of Amazon’s surveillance tactics and implementing measures to curtail any unlawful activities.
Their appeal emphasises the need for Amazon to adhere to European legislation safeguarding workers’ fundamental rights, including privacy and data control.
The union leaders committed to collaborating with European authorities to enforce the data rights of Amazon employees, sending a clear message that excessive surveillance in the workplace is unacceptable and will be challenged.
Oliver Roethig, Regional Secretary of UNI Europa said: ‘The pervasive and harmful surveillance tactics employed by Amazon not only undermine the trust between workers and management but also highlight a systemic disregard for our privacy laws.
‘It’s high time that we stand up and demand that these multinational companies respect workers’ personal data and their right to a dignified workplace.
‘We need robust action now to ensure that our laws are fully enforced.’

  • Pro-Palestinian university protests in Europe have resumed with renewed vigour as Israel launches a ground assault on Rafah after rejecting a ceasefire proposal that had been accepted by Hamas.

At Berlin’s Freie Universität in Germany on Tuesday, hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters occupied a courtyard.
The protesters set up tents and formed a human chain, chanting slogans such as: ‘Viva, Viva Palestina.’
Police carried some protesters away, some of them with a struggle.
Earlier in the morning, at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, police arrested 125 activists and broke up a pro-Palestinian demonstration camp.
Students had set up a tent on Monday night, calling on the university to cut all ties with Israel.
The University of Vienna and the Austrian Ministry of Education distanced themselves from the action.
In recent days, students have held protests or set up encampments in Finland, Denmark, Italy, Spain, France and Britain following earlier protests in the US.