Italy's unions rally against neo-fascist groups after violent protests


FILE PHOTO: Demonstrators face off police officers during a protest against the government's introduction of the "Green Pass" near Chigi Palace in Rome, Italy, October 9, 2021. REUTERS/Remo Casilli

ROME (Reuters) - Italy's biggest workers' unions rallied in Rome on Saturday and called on the government to dissolve the neo-fascist groups involved in last weekend's violent protests against the COVID-19 health pass.

Last week, police arrested 12 people, including leaders of the extreme right-wing group Forza Nuova, after thousands took to the streets to oppose mandatory 'green passes' for all workers.

Some groups broke through police lines to reach the prime minister's office, while others smashed their way into the headquarters of Italy's largest trade union, CGIL.

Many of those attending Saturday's rally waved CGIL's red flag as they marched from an area close to the city's main station to the central square of San Giovanni on a crisp, sunny afternoon.

Italy's main unions CGIL, CISL and UIL all called on the government to dissolve neo-fascist and neo-nazi groups at the rally whose slogan was "No to fascism and violence, yes to work, safety and rights".

"We ask for concrete acts, not just chatter. It is time for the state to demonstrate its democratic strength in enforcing the laws and the constitution," CGIL's Secretary General Maurizio Landini said from the stage.

"A country that loses its memory cannot have a future," he added.

Organisers estimated between 50,000 and 60,000 people took part. CISL head Pierpaolo Bombadieri said participation was as high as 100,000.

"Stay away from our head offices, stay away from the squares," Bombardiere said, referring to last week's violent protests.

Last week's riots drew widespread condemnation, including from Matteo Salvini and Giorgia Meloni, the leaders of the rightist League and Brothers of Italy parties, respectively.

Two Forza Nuova leaders remain in custody after a decision by a judge.

(Reporting by Giulia Segreti, additional reporting by Jaime Lopez, editing by Christina Fincher)

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