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Italians to go on strike over budget cuts

 
 
 
 
 
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Demonstrators hold a banner reading "We don't pay your bill, change the menu" as they march during a general strike in Italy.

Tens of thousands of Italian workers plan a general strike against the imposition of the government’s harsh austerity measures aimed at saving the country from financial ruin.

Leaders of Italy’s three biggest unions have called for a three hour strike on Monday afternoon and a rally which will be held outside parliament, Associated Press reported.

Prime Minister Mario Monti met with union leaders last night but failed to convince them that his plan could work against what he calls “Italy’s extreme financial situation.”

The Union leaders say the measures are too tough for pensioners and workers and not tough enough on the wealthy.

The main objections are the introduction of property taxes on primary residences as well as pension cuts and the hefty raise of the retirement age.

The Italian parliament is expected to approve the proposed 32-billion-dollar austerity package before the start of the Christmas break in a bid to save the country from bankruptcy.

Monti believes Italy will “collapse” like Greece without the new austerity measures, saying the package will also help solve the eurozone debt crisis.

Italy’s debt, totaling around 1.9 trillion euros, is 120 percent of its Gross Domestic Product. Rome has been under intense pressure to act quickly ahead of a key European Union summit on Thursday and Friday.

The government has said it will meet its target of balancing the budget by 2013 but has warned the Italian economy will slip back into recession next year.

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