ITALY ON STRIKE: Italy came to a virtual standstill Tuesday as the country’s three largest trade unions staged a one-day general strike to protest Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s plan to scrap a 30-year-old labor law, which says employees cannot be sacked without just cause. According to Cisil, one of the unions, more than 20 million people, or 52 percent of Italy’s work force, walked off their jobs, paralyzing railways, airports and public transportation. In Milan, morning traffic snarled to a halt as close to 200,000 protesters marched through the city’s center. The scene was similar in other Italian cities as some two million people hit the streets in protest. Berlusconi and his government say labor reform will help bolster the Italian job market. This is the first general, nationwide strike in Italy in more than 20 years.

BOTTEGA’S NEWEST: Bottega Veneta is opening two flagships in Paris and London this July. Both will feature the company’s new store concept designed by Tomas Maier, Bottega’s creative director, and architect William Sofield. The Paris store will be at 16 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore and the London store will occupy 33 Sloane Street. The Gucci-owned Bottega, in the midst of a major overhaul, also plans to open new concept stores in the next six months in Hawaii; Costa Mesa and San Jose, Calif.; Tokyo; Milan; Kuwait, and Bari, Italy.

HSN TAPS WATSON: John Watson has joined the HSN division of USA Networks’ Interactive Group in the new post of chief operating officer. Watson, president and chief executive of Sunglass Hut International prior to its acquisition by Luxottica Group SpA in 2001, reports to Mark Bozek, HSN’s president and chief executive. His new duties include overseeing HSN’s domestic and international businesses. Among those reporting to Watson are Bob Rosenblatt, president of HSN U.S. Before his stint at Sunglass Hut, Watson was senior vice president of strategic marketing for Reebok International and also held key positions at Esprit de Corp. and McKinsey.

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