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Alitalia flight attendants strip in labor protest

Dozens of former flight attendants from the defunct Italian airline Alitalia removed their uniforms on Wednesday, wearing only underwear in a quiet, choreographed protest in central Rome.

Italy’s decades-old carrier, who was financially enslaved, flew its last flight on October 14. A new airline, ITA, started flying the next day and used some of Alitalia’s aircraft. It also bought the Alitalia brand, but it accepts fewer than 3,000 of Alitalia’s 10,000 employees.

Trade union officials say those who want to work for ITA are being hired at significantly lower pay scales.

About 50 former stewardesses stood in rows on a square on top of Rome’s Capitoline Hill, lowering their company’s shoulder bags to the cobblestones, then slowly and in sync, removing their coats, then uniform jackets, then skirts, and then stepping out of their high-heeled shoes.

They remained barefoot, wearing only a slip, in silence for a few minutes. Then they carefully gathered their garments and shoes and shouted together, “We are Alitalia!”

Trade union leaders have been pushing for the government to extend unemployment benefits for up to five years.

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