Italian unions to strike over government budget
By Roberto Landucci
ROME (Reuters) - Italy's three main trade union confederations will hold rolling strikes and protests against the government's 2014 budget plan, they said on Monday, piling more pressure on Enrico Letta's fragile coalition.
Unions, employers and even politicians from among the ruling parties have complained the budget does too little to reduce taxes, reverse years of austerity or reform an economy which has been in recession for two years.
The fiscal law, which aims to lower Italy's budget deficit to 2.5 percent of output in 2014 from a targeted 3.0 percent this year, has become a focal point of discontent against the unpopular left-right coalition government.
On Friday strikes by smaller left-wing unions hit transport, education and public services and on Saturday demonstrators clashed with police in Rome as tens of thousands protested against austerity.
Luigi Angeletti, head of the moderate UIL union, said that to preserve his government's stability Letta had bowed to political vetoes from coalition partners which had blocked promised bold spending cuts and tax reductions.
"Everything stays the same, Letta shouldn't have made a budget to stabilize the government, he should have created one to stabilize the country," he told reporters after a meeting the chiefs of the larger CISL and CGIL confederations.
The unions called for major changes to the budget law during its passage through parliament, where it must be approved by the end of the year, but they stopped short of calling a nationwide general strike.
Instead they will hold half-day strikes among various categories of workers up to mid-November, when they will meet again to assess whether the government has responded to their demands and decide on future action. Continued...