الأحد , يونيو 14 2020

Italy strikes over labour reforms

Demonstrators gather in downtown Rome to take part in a trade union rally - 12 December 2014The two trade unions taking part are the Italian General Confederation of Labour and the Italian Labour Union

A general strike is disrupting transport across Italy as rallies get under way in more than 50 cities, including the capital Rome.

Trade unions are protesting against the government’s bid to reform labour laws.

They insist the current regulations are necessary to protect workers from being sacked by unscrupulous companies.

But Prime Minister Matteo Renzi says the planned reforms are essential for his government to lift Italy’s economy out of years of stagnation.

He believes employment laws must be loosened to boost the labour market and has made the new legislation the centrepiece of his government’s policies.

Thousands of union members took to the streets on Friday morning from Milan in the north to Palermo in the south.

The general strike shut down basic services like local transport and ports across Italy and left many schools closed.

A balloon depicting Prime Minister Matteo Renzi as Pinocchio above a rally in Rome - 12 December 2014A balloon depicting Mr Renzi as Pinocchio. The Prime Minister is currently in Turkey at a business forum

A demonstrator wears a hat saying Enough! as she takes part in a rally in Rome - 12 December 2014.“Enough!” proclaims the hat of a demonstrator taking part in the trade union rally in central Rome

The industrial action is the first ever by two of Italy’s largest union confederations against a centre-left government.

Centre-left administrations have traditionally had close relationships with the unions.

Correspondents say it is a sign of internal discord within Mr Renzi’s own party, with some members of his Democratic Party joining the marches.

In recent years, a series of Italian governments have tried and failed to reform the country’s employment laws and Italy’s economy remains in recession.

GDP has fallen by 0.4% in the past year, and in the decade to 2010 only two countries had lower GDP growth than Italy – Haiti and Zimbabwe.

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