Protest against sanitary pass continues in Italian port despite police water cannons and tear gas
TRIESTE, Italy, October 18 (Reuters) – Italian police used water cannons and tear gas on Monday to try to clear a sit-in in the port of Trieste, where opponents of the compulsory COVID-sanitary pass 19 governments tried to block access.
The northeast port has been the focal point of protests in Italy against the introduction of new rules last Friday that require all workers to present proof of vaccination, a negative coronavirus test or a recent recovery from infection.
Police in riot gear intervened on Monday morning after several hundred dockworkers disrupted access to one of the main gates of Italy’s largest commercial port.
The crowd was driven back by jets of water followed by bursts of tear gas. Many of them made their way to the city’s main square to continue their protest in front of government offices.
“They attacked us. I am speechless. I did not expect it,” said Stefano Puzzer, spokesman for the port protesters. “We’re going to sit here. We keep our cool. We won’t give up.”
Protesters refused to disperse despite repeated use of water cannons by police in the evening, television footage showed.
Three police officers were slightly injured in clashes, Italian media reported.
The government says the mandatory health “Green Pass” is needed to keep workers safe and to encourage more people to get vaccinated. Under the rule, in effect until the end of the year, workers will be suspended without pay and face a fine of up to 1,500 euros ($ 1,730) if they try to work without the certificate. .
Most Italians support the provision, according to opinion polls, but a vocal minority say it infringes on basic labor rights.
Some 15% of workers in the private sector and 8% of workers in the public sector do not have green passes, according to a government document seen by Reuters last week.
However, Puzzer said around 40% of Trieste port workers are unvaccinated. Vaccine hostility is also higher in the city than in most of Italy, with an “anti-vax” party garnering 4.5% of the vote in municipal elections this month.
Reporting by Crispian Balmer Editing by Peter Graff and Gavin Jones
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