Rome: Tens of thousands of workers took to
the streets across Italy today as the country`s biggest union
called a general strike against austerity measures by Prime
Minister Silvio Berlusconi`s government.
"This is a plan the country doesn`t deserve," said
Susanna Camusso, the secretary general of the CGIL as she led
a protest march through Rome hours before the austerity plan
was to go before the Senate.
Marches were also taking place in towns and cities across
the country. More than 10,000 were taking part in an
anti-austerity demonstration in Florence, and another major
march was underway in the port city of Genoa.
"We are on the edge of the abyss, we need responsible
government," said Camusso as a colourful, banner-wielding
column of tens of thousands of workers weaved its way through
The eight-hour general strike caused major disruption to
public transport, with airlines, trains, buses, and ferries
announcing cancellations and delays.
Museums and art galleries as well as major attractions
like the Colosseum and the Roman Forum were closed.
The strike was also affecting hospitals and postal
services. Schools were unaffected with classes yet to begin
for the year.
Berlusconi`s centre-right cabinet adopted the draft
45.5-billion euro (USD 64.8-billion) plan on August 12 in a
bid to calm market panic and bring Italy`s budget into balance
in 2013 instead of 2014 as planned earlier.
Parliament is widely expected to adopt the plan later