Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Italians brace for anti-austerity strike

Students demonstrate and hold a placard reading 'We are making the wealth ourselves' during a general strike on May 6, 2011 in the capital Rome.

Source: Press TV

Millions of Italians are set to go on a general strike in the capital Rome to protest fresh austerity measures adopted by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's government.

The day-long strike will be held against a 45.5-billion-euro package of spending cuts and tax hikes introduced by the Berlusconi administration.

The protest action has been called by CGIL, Italy's biggest trade union, which demands from Rome to take measures to protect public jobs and punish tax evaders, the BBC reported Tuesday.

The strike is expected to disrupt public transportation, including train and bus services, and lead to the closure of some government offices.

Italian airline Alitalia has also announced that the action will force it to reduce the number of its domestic flights.

The Italian parliament is due to vote for a controversial austerity package that was compiled in early August under pressures from Italy's eurozone partners and the European Central Bank (ECB).

On Monday, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano called for swift action to reinforce the economic austerity plans while warning of clear signs that markets have lost confidence in Italy.

The strike comes as Berlusconi's popularity rating has plummeted to an all-time low.

Italy's budget deficit currently stands at 3.8 percent of the country's GDP. The government introduced a 48-billion-euro austerity package in July to balance the budget.

However, analysts say the Italian government needs an additional 20-billion-euro cut in spending to achieve a balanced deficit by 2013.

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