Workers in Italy demonstrated in large numbers and clashed with police in a nationwide strike on Friday against proposed government reforms. Unions protested a new law that enables firms to easily lay off employees.
Tens of thousands of Italian public and private sector employees striked nationwide on Friday against job policies aimed at hauling the country out of economic recession.
The strike, called by the nation's biggest union coalition, the CGIL and two smaller confederations, the UIL and UGL, hit public transport, hospitals, schools and civil administrations across the country. More than 50 rallies were held nationwide, with around 40,000 participating at a demonstration in Rome.
"Today there has been an extraordinary response from workers opposed to the Renzi government's policies," Maurizio Landini, Italy's prominent union leader, said while addressing a rally in Rome, the AFP reported.
Matteo Renzi determined to implement new law
The new labor reforms are a bone of contention between Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and Italy's workforce. The 39-year-old prime minister has proposed the "Jobs Act," aimed at loosening restrictions on companies wanting to fire employees when business is slow.
Unemployment in Italy is at a record 40 percent and workers' unions believe that the government needs to change its policies on employment rather than target the labor force. "The Jobs Act and the budget do nothing to revive the economy and create jobs," Susanna Camusso, head of the CGIL said.
However, Prime Minister Renzi seems to be determined to implement his policies. Speaking in Turkey on Thursday, Renzi said that he respected the unions' right to strike, but that they wouldn't throw his plans off course.
Italy's government is desperately looking for solutions to reform the economy, which is receding for the third consecutive year. The European Union member state needs to reduce its budget deficit and debt targets to conform to the EU's limits.
mg/lw (dpa, AFP, Reuters)