July 7, 2008 / 10:12 AM / 11 years ago

Italy hit by nationwide transport strike

Commuters in a bus in Rome in a file photo. Italian trains, buses and subways ground to a halt on Monday as workers staged a nationwide strike to demand a renewal of their expired labor contracts. REUTERS/Max Rossi

ROME (Reuters) - Italian trains, buses and subways ground to a halt on Monday as workers staged a nationwide strike to demand a renewal of their expired labor contracts.

In most cities, buses and subways were to suspend services for most of the day apart from the evening rush hour. Train workers began a 24-hour strike late on Sunday.

“The unions are asking for the renewal of the national work contract for over 250,000 employees,” said Francesco Lucirino, secretary general of the Cosnil union. “We’ve been waiting for more than seven months for a move by the government and we have not received any answer on renewing contracts.”

The strike is expected to cost the transport system 350,000 euros in all, Lucirino said. It is expected to be the first of several strikes in Italy this month, with airport workers scheduled to strike later this month.

Frustrated commuters and travelers formed long lines at bus stops and train stations across the country.

“We’ve been waiting in line for forty minutes,” said Australian tourist Wayne Gilbert, adding he had little hope of arriving in Venice later on Monday as planned.

Writing by Deepa Babington

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