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Strike quietens Italy's beaches

Italian beaches were devoid of their usual August crowds on Friday as beach clubs staged a short strike. The strike was called to protest against a government plan that would see the right to operate patches of seafront decided by auction from 2016.

Italian beaches were devoid of their usual August crowds on Friday as beach clubs staged a short strike.

The strike was called to protest against a government plan that would see the right to operate patches of seafront decided by auction from 2016.

A parasol and sun lounger set can cost from 20 euros ($24.32) to 70 euros a day in more upscale clubs, which run bars, restaurants and changing facilities.

Environmentalist groups argue that the beach clubs prevent free public access to the sea.

The beach workers' union says the government's proposal for auctions will favour multinational companies over smaller local businesses, putting 30,000 beach businesses and 600,000 workers at risk.