Italy’s government has called a confidence vote in parliament to speed up the approval of a 33-billion euro austerity package.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti believes the package will restore market confidence in the euro zone’s third largest economy.
The plans were booed and jeered by the Northern League in Italy’s upper house of Parliament on Wednesday, as they held up placards saying “This is not a budget, but a hold-up.”
They tried to stop the confidence vote in the chamber but they were cut short by the speaker.
Despite this minor obstruction, Monti is supported by an overwhelming majority in both houses.
Italy’s trade unions, who strongly oppose the cuts have staged a series of protests.
A group of part-time firefighters demonstrated outside the Italian Parliament as the talks were going ahead. They demanded full contracts and a fairer package.
Firefighter Luca Basso said:“Rome does not recognise us as full time workers. The firefighters corp is drifting, practically collapsing, understaffed in a frightening way and we are fully-fledged temporary workers.”
Outside government there are signs that Monti’s honeymoon period is coming to an end.
Some commentators are accusing him of imposing excessive sacrifices on ordinary Italians.