A nationwide strike held in Italy by telecom workers this week recorded participation levels of 80 percent, as telco workers continue to fight plans over structural separation within the sector.
The proposed plans would separate networks, services, and customer-facing activities in the country, namely at Telecom Italia (TIM) and CK Hutchison-owned Wind Tre.
The protests attracted thousands of telecoms employees from across Italy this Wednesday (June 7), who took to Rome’s Piazza Santi Apostoli.
Protesters shouted "Riprendiamoci il futuro" – "Let’s take back the future," according to the Italian website Collettiva.
In April, Wind Tre notified trade unions that Swedish investment fund EQT would acquire a 60 percent stake in its spun-off infrastructure business, which prompted several unions including SLC-CGIL, UILCOM-UIL, and Fistel-CISL to announce a series of strikes.
At the protests, the unions were scathing of Wind Tre's plans to transfer 2,000 of its 6,500 employees in Italy to a new technology and wholesale business unit, NetCo.
"The image of disaster: companies that spend their days reducing employment perimeters and wreaking havoc on rights and wages," said Riccardo Saccone, national secretary of SLC CGIL (translated).
"Once telecommunications were synonymous with modernity, however, today the sector has been exploited by finance which – continues the secretary – has treated our companies like ATMs, or places to plunder."
As for TIM, the telco is still looking to secure a buyer for its network, with prospective buyers having until today (June 9) to submit improved bids.
Interest from KKR and Macquarie Infrastructure has not been enough to secure a deal so far, while Italian state lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP) has tried to create a single broadband company with Open Fiber, following the conclusion of the country's national general election.
KKR previously said it wants to work with Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni's government as part of a joint venture to acquire the company's network assets.
There's been strong interest from the Italian government to take TIM under state control, with the Meloni's Brothers of Italy party outlining the plan before their election victory.
KKR already owns a minority stake in TIM's fiber copper unit, valued at around €2 billion ($2.1bn), and attempted to acquire the whole company for €10.8bn ($11.6bn at the time), but was rejected.
TIM reported debts of €25.8bn ($27.8bn) as of March. Advisors to TIM evaluate the company's worth at close to €20 billion ($21.5bn), however, TIM is pushing for closer to €30bn ($32bn), according to reports.
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