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Trade unionists in Italy have staged a general strike today in protest against austerity.
Over 100 flights have been cancelled, subway transport in several cities has been suspended and 80 percent of bus services have ground to a halt in the capital.
Led by COBAS and the USB confederation, thousands of workers are marching throughout the country with some camping in the cities hoping to continue the protest in to tomorrow.
Italy’s economy contracted by 0.2 percent in the third quarter of 2011 and by 0.7 percent in the fourth quarter of the same year and is one of the poorest performing economies in the Eurozone.
And Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta has come under fire from unions for freezing public sector salaries when he announced the budget on Tuesday.
“With this budget the government is continuing to hurt a country which is already on its knees,” COBAS spokesman Piero Bernocchi told the Reuters news agency, adding: “Even after austerity has proven to be disastrous, with debt rising, the economy crumbling and unemployment soaring they still continue with these policies.”
Support for the strike has flooded in from the World Federation of Trade Unions which the USB is affiliated.
A WFTU statement read:
“Together with the militant class-oriented forces in Europe and the international family of the WFTU our struggle must become stronger and more determined against the capitalist agenda.”
“To form and agenda based on the workers’ and our Peoples problems and contemporary needs.
“We wish you every success at the general strike of October 18th. We will be on your side.”