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Italy: Taxi drivers turn off their motors in wildcat strike

last update: January 13, 12:24

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Rome, 13 Jan. (AKI) - Taxi drivers in Rome, Naples, Milan and other Italian cities on Friday went on strike to protest possible government efforts to pry open their profession to more competition.

Taxi's were parked near the prime minister's office and residence in Rome's historic centre, blocking traffic in the Italian capital. Naple's most famous square, Piazza del Plebiscito, was filled with parked taxis for the consecutive second day, while travellers were stranded in Rome's Leonardo Da Vinci International Airport.

Unions called on drivers to end the wildcat, or unauthorized, strike saying there is already one planned for 24 January.

The Italian government has pushed through measures boosting taxes and reforming the country's expensive pension system in a bid to calm European Union and investor worries that its can default on its 1.9 trillion euro debt - putting the very future of the euro currency in danger.

Prime minister Mario Monti's unelected government says it will open Italy's protected professional sectors opening them to competition, and hopefully giving a boost to the economy.

Taxi drivers complain that their licenses cost a fortune, and more competition means that returns on their investment could be put at risk. Supporters of a the measure say more licenses will bring down prices for consumers.

The govenment still has not revealed details of its planned measures, though news reports say the taxi, public notary, pharmacy, gas station and journalism sectors will be among those affected

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