Thousands of demonstrators marched in towns and cities all over Italy in support of the anti-austerity action.
The biggest union in the country called its members out on a four hour stoppage.
In Rome, riot police fired tear gas and charged at a breakaway group of students who threw stones near government buildings.
The scenes were repeated elsewhere in Italy too.
At Brescia in northern Italy there were violent clashes between protesters and riot police trying to prevent them from taking over the railway station.
The police failed.
Turin saw what was perhaps the most serious violence. A police officer was seriously injured in clashes outside the local government headquarters there. At least five more police were injured in Milan, though their injuries were less serious.