In the wake of opening up of schools and colleges across Italy in the midst of a spike in COVID-19 cases, youth groups have demanded free and safe transport facilities for students. The Communist Youth Front (FGC) initiated a campaign on this demand and gave a call for a mobilization in Rome for October 24, Saturday. A section of students including from the Alternative Students Opposition (OSA) observed October 19 as the national agitation day for public transport and organized a demonstration in front of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transportation.
Earlier, on October 17, students protested and organized a flash mob in front of the headquarters of the company for rail and road transport of the city of Rome (ATAC). Protesters complained that millions of students and workers are being forced to travel on buses and overcrowded trains, exposing themselves to COVID-19.
The FGC stated, “improvement of service was needed by increasing the transport services and staff, but transport companies simply sacrificed workers’ interests to save money. If someone preferred to cash in quickly on the price of subscriptions and tickets instead of guaranteeing distances and safety, no wonder the infections are increasing”.
“The pandemic has shown that public transport is an essential service and the private management that is now collapsing is useful only to the pockets of managers and those who earn the profits. To be able to study, work and live in decent conditions, we want public transport, free and safe,” added FGC.
The OSA stated, “we students who take transport every morning to go to our institutes know the situation of local public transport, which was already critical before the pandemic and which now, with the risk of spreading the virus, is really unsustainable.”
The reopening of schools initiated in Italy since September has received widespread criticism due to fresh cases of COVID-19, lack of protective equipment, and confusion regarding the conduct of classes. In many provinces, the reopening of schools was postponed and in regions like Campania, schools were closed again due to fresh cases of COVID-19.
Following the announcement of the re-closure of schools in Campania on October 17, the regional committee of the Italian Communist Youth Federation (FGCI) accused the region’s president, Vincenza da Luca, and Italy’s education minister Lucia Azzolina of doing nothing in the past eight months to ensure the safety of students and the resumption of safe classes.