By Ahmet Gencturk
ANKARA (AA) - Workers in Italy took to the streets against the government’s proposed budget for 2022, local media reported on Thursday.
As part of an eight-hour general strike called by two of the country’s biggest trade unions – the Italian General Confederation of Labor (CGIL) and Italian Labor Union (UIL) – public and private sector workers have staged large rallies across the country, including in the capital Rome, Milan, Bari, Cagliari, and Palermo, according to ANSA news agency.
The country’s third-biggest trade union, the Italian Confederation of Workers’ Trade Unions (CISL), is not taking part in the strike, saying it opposes any move that could heighten social tensions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a joint statement, the protesting unions asserted that the government’s budget plan does not meet the expectations of the working class, particularly on tax cuts, pension reforms and on preventing the manufacturing sector from shifting abroad.
The budget does not take into consideration the “precarious” conditions of the working class, particularly young and women workers, the statement said.
"It (draft budget) does not redistribute wealth, does not reduce inequalities and does not generate balanced and structural development and stable employment,” it added.
Addressing the striking workers gathered in Rome’s Piazza del Popolo, Maurizio Landini, general secretary of the CGIL, stressed that the distance between ruling elites and ordinary people is widening.
“It would be good for those in the parliament to listen to us,” he said.
Meanwhile, Matteo Salvini, the leader of the far-right League party, was harsh in criticizing the strike.
Arguing that the strike is against the interests of both the country and its working class, Matteo Salvini said: “The CGIL should help us rebuild the country instead of blocking it.”
Government sources have defended the budget plans, currently being debated by parliament, with "facts, measures and significant resources" devoted to workers, families and pensioners, according to ANSA news agency.