ROME, Italy: Hundreds of Alitalia workers stopped highway traffic as they blocked an airport exit on Friday to protest that most staff will soon lose their jobs.
Alitalia is being reorganized, as of October 15, as a new airline, named ITA, and will take over Alitalia's aircraft, routes and facilities. However, it will only retain some 2,800 of 10,000 Alitalia's employees.
In protest, Alitalia employees forced the cancellation of many flights during the day-long work action. Other workers sat down on the highway exit ramp leading to Rome's Leonardo da Vinci Airport, while other workers skirmished with police.
Traffic was backed up for miles, said officials.
Alitalia workers are also calling for unemployment benefits to continue for five years, rather than one year.
Union leaders have also asked Italian Premier Mario Draghi's government to assist workers in ensuring better conditions for workers who will keep their jobs and to reduce the planned job cuts.
ITA has said it will also reduce the number of aircraft it will fly.