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Monday, 31 December, 2001, 13:12 GMT
Bank strike threat to euro changeover
BNP Paribas euro advert
BNP Paribas: Reached agreement with unions
Bank workers in Italy have joined their French counterparts in announcing a strike which threatens to disrupt the launch of euro notes and coins.

Staff at Italy's central bank are to hold a one-day walk-out on Wednesday, the first business day after national currencies in the eurozone are swapped for euros.

The action would coincide with a one-day strike called by French bank unions in a campaign for talks on salaries, staffing policy and employee security.

In Italy, leaders of the two unions representing central bank staff said they had called a strike in protest at a four-year failure to develop a new work contract.

"The central bank's rigid stance led to a break-off of talks in October," said Salvatore Piccirillo, an official of Sibc, one of the unions involved.

'Responsible attitude'

Jean-Claude Trichet, governor of the Bank of France, and French Finance Minister Laurent Fabius united on Monday to condemn the strike threat.

"The euro must not be taken hostage," Mr Fabius said.

"I think a spirit of responsibility will win out in the end."

Mr Trichet, who has been seen as a possible successor to Wim Duisenberg as head of the European Central Bank, called for a "responsible attitude".

"I am confident - the men and women who work in banks deeply wish to help our fellow citizens at this historic time," he told Le Monde newspaper.

Support for the French strike threat was weakened last week when BNP Paribas, the country's biggest bank, revealed it had agreed terms with unions on wages.

See also:

20 Dec 01 | Europe
Euro chaos threatens France
05 Dec 01 | Business
Are banks ready for the euro?
28 Nov 01 | Business
French strike threat to euro launch
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