Workers strike in protest at austerity package
Italy's largest union urged workers to go on full and partial strikes on Friday to protest against the government's plans to implement austerity measures worth 24.9 billion euros over the next two years.
AFP - Workers belonging to Italy's largest union on Friday went on strike to protest austerity cuts by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's government to bring the deficit under control.
As protest parades took off in Rome, in the southern city of Naples and in Italy's economic capital Milan, the strike called by the CGIL union was limited to four hours for public transportation and eight hours for other workers in the public and private sectors.
In Milan, the three subway lines were working normally according to the ATM company, while at the Roman airport of Fiumicino, five flights were cancelled as of 0900 GMT.
Some pilots, flight attendants and airport flight personnel were on strike from 0800 to 1200 GMT, while rail transport was expected to slow down from 1200 to 1600 GMT, even though national rail operator Trenitalia said there would be no disruption.
Workers on the ferries to Italy's numerous islands ports operators and highway tollbooth workers would go on strike for four hours, while truckers were urged to strike all day.
In a bid to clean up public finances and reassure the markets, the centre-right government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi last month approved an austerity package worth 24.9 billion euros (30 billion dollars) for 2011 and 2012.
The measures are expected to bring the deficit's percentage of GDP down to 2.7 percent in 2012 -- within the three percent required by the European Union -- from the current 5.3 percent.
In May, the government lowered its growth forecast for 2011 to 1.5 percent from 2.0 percent. The government expects output to grow by one percent in 2010 and by 2.0 percent in 2012.
Workers in the northern regions of Piedmont and Liguria and the central Tuscany region will go on strike on July 2.