Italian unions have taken to the streets of Rome to protest against Prime Minister Mario Monti’s austerity measures.
The former EU commissioner wants to boost productivity by opening up so-called ‘closed-shop’ professions.
Taxis, the legal profession and pharmacies are among those sectors that face more competition.
Communist MP Paolo Ferrero complained: “It takes money out of people’s pockets. They can no longer spend and the recession will be even worse due to Monti’s reforms. It doesn’t tackle the real problem of financial speculation. Here the prime minister lets (German Chancellor Angela)Merkel do what she wants and she is pushing Europe into disaster.”
Monti’s technocrat government also wants greater private sector participation in the transport industry.
Public transport workers took part in a 24-hour strike, wreaking havoc on buses and trains.
Rome’s two metro lines and local commuter trains were not running, while some airport and airline staff also walked out.
Similar protests were held in December as Monti pushed a mix of spending cut and tax hikes through parliament.