As austerity measures begin to bite in Italy workers have been on the streets protesting against labour reforms. They are part of a drive by Prime Minister Mario Monti’s technocrat government to slash 33 billion euros from the country’s almost 3 trillion euro debt.
Public opposition is growing, as was evidenced in the comments of people taking part in a union-led demonstration in Rome.
“For us, they’re doing the same thing as the Berlusconi government. Monti is not working with any kind of equality and is asking for more and more sacrifices from us. They’re not even guaranteeing the right to work, which is a fundamental right,” one woman protestor said.
A union leader said: “We will go on, today is not our last protest. We want to open up a new phase for this country, because the problem we have is to create jobs, the problem is recognising that the people who work are the ones who sustain this country.”
The government says its trying to rebalance a labour system that heavily protects salaried staff but offers little security or benefits to young people on temporary contracts. Unions say the government wants to make it easier to hire and fire everybody.