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Thousands have taken to streets of the Italian capital Rome to protest over government plans to introduce legislation that will make it easier for companies to sack employees.

The dispute could well escalate after Italy’s biggest union the CGIL threatened a general strike if the government does not back down.

CGIL General Secretary Susanna Camusso said:

“We will continue to demonstrate until they acknowledge that the labour reforms will not create a single job. We must also intervene on the issue of temporary contracts. The situation is getting worse.”

Public transport in Rome ground to a halt after bus and metro workers walked out for a 24-hour day of action heaping misery on commuters:

“It isn’t right that they strike, especially in a city like Rome which doesn’t give you any other options for transport,” said one frustrated Roman.

There is deep unease in the country over the governments labour reforms and Prime Minister Mario Monti, hailed as a hero after he succeeded Silvio Berlusconi, is rapidly losing support as the country wrestles with its massive debt.

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