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Italian strikers hamper Swiss traffic

Railway stations remained quiet as trains were cancelled in Italy

(Keystone)

A one-day general strike in Italy crippled traffic to and from neighbouring Switzerland.

Heavy goods traffic from Switzerland to Italy came to a standstill on Tuesday after Italian customs officials joined the strike.

Police in the Swiss canton of Ticino said they had ordered all southbound lorries to wait in lay-bys along the main transalpine motorway through Switzerland.

A spokesman said many truck drivers were aware of the situation and had put off their trips to Italy.

Trains and planes

Train services between northern Italy and Switzerland were also affected by the industrial action. A spokesman for the Swiss Federal Railways said only six trains had travelled across the border.

All other southbound trains stopped at the border stations of Chiasso and Brig. The situation was expected to improve when Italian railway workers resumed work Tuesday evening.

Air traffic between the two countries was also crippled by the strike. Swiss officials said flights to Italy from the main airports of Zurich and Geneva were either cancelled or postponed.

Biggest strike in decades

The first full-day general strike in 20 years brought much of Italy to a halt. Air and rail transport ground to a virtual standstill, schools, banks and post offices shut down for the day.

Hundreds of thousands of people converged on Italian cities to protest against the labour reforms of the centre-right government.

The main trade unions behind the strike want the country's prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, to drop plans to overhaul the labour market. But the government says the reforms are needed to boost efficiency.

swissinfo with agencies


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