Italy is bracing itself for what has been billed as its most widespread day of strike action, as students and teachers down pens over the government’s education reform laws.
Tens of thousands of people took part in demonstrations yesterday, claiming the legislation will lead to funding cuts of nine billion euros and the loss of around 130,000 jobs.
The government bill became law yesterday with 162 senators voting in favour and 134 against.
Officials say the reform is necessary to cut unnecessary expenditure and put Italy’s schools on a par with those in other European countries.
The leader of the centre-left main opposition Democratic Party, Walter Veltroni, says the public should have the final say: “We are going to push for a referendum on these school and university budget cuts, and we are calling on everyone involved to participate in what is a big issue for the population.”
Tourists were forced to run for cover in Rome’s historic Piazza Navona yesterday, as clashes broke out between groups of left and right-wing students.
Riot police eventually moved in to quell the violence. Several people were treated for minor injuries.