Unions representing petrol station operators in Italy have confirmed that a two-day strike could be staged in February to protest about the Italian government's plans to further open up the country's fuel retail sector, which include allowing forecourts on supermarket sites.

<p>The Italian government recently announced proposals to promote greater price competition in the country&#0039;s fuel retail sector, namely introducing measures to make it easier for retailers to open new petrol stations and permitting supermarkets and hypermarkets to open service stations on their existing sites.<br /><br />While these measures are designed to encourage price competition and ultimately bring down the price of fuel for consumers, the decision to allow supermarkets to enter the market has riled fuel retailers.<br /><br />Indeed, these service station operators have announced plans to stage a 48-hour strike, possibly as early as the beginning of February, to protest about the government&#0039;s proposals if negotiations with government officials are unable to pacify them.<br /><br />Petrol station owners also threatened to strike in 2005 over the possibility of supermarkets entering their sector. Although this strike was averted thanks to government reassurances that the law would not be changed to allow this to happen, it appears the apparent u-turn on the matter could bring matters to a head.</p>