I remember as a kid, my father was part of a Union and they went on strike. While I wasnt there in person, I heard about the picket line and the signs and the negotiations. In the end, it was resolved as best these things can be and work went on. Since then, strikes have increased in the US but they are mostly done to instigate communication and negotiation. Some last less than a day because people start negotiating at the threat and others (like the current writers strike) go on for weeks.
But here in Italy, strikes happen randomly, sometimes without much notice and mostly with no change whatsoever to policy or pay. You might have heard about the one last month with the drivers. That went on for a little over a week and I heard that some gas stations closed because they were out of fuel. I am not sure anything else came of this activity (i.e. did they negotiate and get a deal?) Recently, there have been a few other transportation strikes that have lasted a day or less. The train people didnt work one day and the boat people another day. Well, I should clarify...some of the train people and some of the boat people. And Alitalia (the airline) is pretty consistent about having a one day strike at least every month or so. These Italian strikes amuse me--its not always all the workers across the board and it can last for just a few hours--the next day, its like it never happened and nothing has been gained.
Today, I went to the post office to mail a card (local address). I was told I couldnt buy a stamp because there was a strike today! Keep in mind, the post office is open and people are working, so I dont really know what part of their services they are striking about? She directed me to the tobacco shop (which sells stamps and lottery tickets along with cigarettes and candies). I went to the closest one, bought my stamp and went back to the post office to drop my letter in the box. I did notice that you are able to mail packages today and do a variety of other activities at the post office but definitely not buying stamps. I cant say whether there is mail delivery today or not either....I am assuming because it has to do with postage stamps, they wont go out today (but this is only an uneducated guess based on my experiences with strikes in this country)!
Here is another uneducated guess on my part......I have had enough discussions with Italians to know they rarely call in sick. In fact, they seem to 'know' that Americans often use sick days just because they dont want to go to work. And they find this abhorrent behavior! I think they create strikes for the same reason!