Italians caught in a welfare limbo under the government’s austerity measures have been demonstrating in Rome.
Known as the “esodati”, up to 300,000 people who had negotiated early retirement before the economic crisis have now had their pensions taken away.
Under the new system, pensions depend on the length of time worked while the retirement age is being raised to 66 for men and 62 for women with immediate effect.
At the protest, union leader Susanna Camussi said the government had no financial resources, because it had not looked in the right place.
“They choose the easiest way,” she said. “Hitting workers and businesses, rather than introducing a property tax. So, the government saying there are no resources is unacceptable.”
In another sign of public anger at reforms, many Italians discovered their chemists were closed.
The highly-regulated pharmacy sector is furious at government plans to make savings of 700 million euros on prescription drugs by effectively raising a tax on chemists.
Pharmacists’ representative Franco Caprino said they would be forced to lay-off staff.
“We don’t want to because these are people who have been working with us for a long time and ruining their lives would be unreasonable,” he added.
This is all part of Prime Minister Mario Monti’s austerity measures and labour reforms.
But with little sign of an economic upturn, Italians are rapidly losing faith in the man they used to call Super Mario.