“Welcome to one of the most characteristic events in Milan: the public transportation strike.”
This was the e-mail I received last Thursday from my university the night before a strike was to take place.
Also included in the e-mail was a full schedule of how many workers and at what time the workers would be striking. This had to be the most convenient, well-organized strike I have ever experienced.
This was the schedule. From 6:30 to 8:30 a.m. people could take the subway normally. At about 8:45 a.m. the strike would begin, and those who wanted to take part in the strike could stop working.
The strike would go until 3 p.m., when everything would return to normal until 6 p.m. Then, the strike would resume until midnight. By 12:01 a.m., everything would return completely to the normal schedule.
I rushed to the subway for my 9 a.m. class that morning, hoping to get on before the metro cars stopped running. Students, businessmen and women pushed their way into the crowded cars.
After class I decided to walk home, thinking that the would not be running because of the strike.
When passing the subway stop, I realized people were walking out from below the metro. Running down the steps to see what was going on, I saw that everything was running as normal. The subway was on time and the workers were, well, working.
Although all union workers were given the option to strike, only 28 percent of the workforce actually took the time off.
Like in the United States, the strike is created to generate confusion and disservice
and to make the customers aware of the workers’ problems. Ironically, everything was normal.
The only way to discover it is to arrive at the station or the airport and try to figure it out.
Flight and train companies try to ensure some trips to the main destinations, but it is not possible to know which ones in advance.
The ATM, Azienda Trasporti Milanesi, employs many union workers. This particular transportation strike involved only some of the Trade Unions, not affecting all of the service.
Public transportation workers in Milan protest against their company two or three times every semester. But with prior warning and a set time schedule, strikes in Italy seem awfully simple.