MILAN — Italy’s new government faced its first strike Monday as workers protested against measures in its emergency budget decree designed to revive the country’s moribund economy and pay down its huge debt, WSJ reports.
The country’s three largest unions — known by their acronyms CGIL, CISL and UIL —called on their respective members to go on strike for periods ranging between three and eight hours.
The unions are protesting against a tax on the primary residence, a rise in the retirement age and cuts to inflation adjustments for all but minimum pension benefits.
“Workers and pensioners are [those]…that have to pay the most in a crisis,” CGIL Secretary General Susanna Camusso told la Repubblica newspaper in an interview published Monday. “We are facing an extremely serious situation on the social front.”
Ms. Camusso and her counterparts met with Prime Minister Mario Monti and some other ministers in Rome late Sunday to discuss their request for changes to the measures, but she said they were confronted with Monti’s resolve to get the budget passed through parliament quickly with as few changes as possible.
Weekend news reports spoke of more than 1,000 amendments having been requested by parliament’s various political parties.
The budget aims to make €20 billion in net cuts.
Monti has acknowledged the severity of the decree and expected more than a single day of strikes, but he has said the country had no choice but to accept the austerity measures in order to prevent the country from succumbing further to the sovereign debt crisis and putting the euro at risk.