Four rallies, involving 10,000 people, crossed Bologna as part of the European general strike on 14 November 2012. The rallies left at 9 a.m. from different parts of the city, marching along all major streets, from those of the university quarter to shopping areas to the avenues where most urban traffic circulates.
One rally was lead by the CGIL union, which had called for a strike of just four hours. It covered a short distance and then ended the morning with a speech from the local leader, Danilo Barbi. Just around 1,000 people took part in this demonstration, which also included the Mayor, Virginio Merola, and some important local representatives of the PD. The lack of worker participation indicates that they were not convinced of the usefulness of this strike.
Much busier was the demonstration of high school students and COBAS, the main union active in schools and in the mobilization of Ikea logistics workers in Piacenza. COBAS had called for a general strike for the entire day. Another rally was organized by high school students close to CGIL, who left the CGIL demonstration and kept marching through the city to reach the COBAS rally. The fourth rally was held by university collectives, blocking the traffic along the avenues and then going on to protest outside the CISL offices (the centrist union which did not call a strike).
Meanwhile, in Anzola, near Bologna, Coop Adriatica’s warehouse logistics workers have been on strike for days, blocking merchandise which is now starting to be missed in stores. Coop Adriatica is the biggest consumer cooperative in Italy and a major player in retail trade. As for Ikea in Piacenza, the protest has been backed by SI COBAS, with the support of CISL. CGIL, the largest union in the country, allied to centre-left wing politics and to Coop, has been accused of signing a contract that makes workers’ conditions very much worse.