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A nationwide strike in Italy has hit public transport as well as other services.

Commuters in Rome and elsewhere scrambled to find the few buses and trains that were running.

Several flights have also been cancelled. Banks, public offices and many schools have been closed.

The strike, organised by Italy’s largest union, is over the impact of government policies on the lives of workers.

“We have to go back home, I was hoping it wasn’t going to be this big. I needed to go to the Vatican pharmacist but I will go home instead,” said pensioner Gloria Lattini, hit by the lack of transport.

A high level of public debt has left the Berlusconi government with little room for manoeuvre. Austerity measures have brought students and other workers onto the streets.

Unions want taxes on salaried workers eased and more investment to create jobs.

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