Italian prime minister Mario Monti has spent the weekend trying to drum up support for a new package of measures designed to shore up public finances.
On Sunday morning he met unions who have been concerned that poorer workers and pensioners will be hit hard.
A cabinet meeting was brought forward to Sunday afternoon to approve the plan, which goes before parliament on Monday.
It is thought a mix of cuts and tax rises in the new austerity plan will try to save nearly 25 billion euros over two years.
Italy’s industry confederation said the country had no other choice, but at least two unions remarked that the measures were unfair.
“All the government measures will reduce the incomes of millions of people, particularly employees and pensioners. There is an uneasy feeling that in the end always the same people will pay,” said Luigi Angeletti, leader of the UIL union.
Unions made clear their opposition to austerity with protests on November 17, the day Monti made his first parliamentary speech.
His plan is likely to bring a new property tax and changes to employment and pensions.
“Bitter medicine”, said one party leader, “but sometimes inevitable to stop the patient from dying”.