Trade unions strike in Italy and Spain


Day of action against government austerity cuts are held as eurozone debt crisis increases.

Protesters in Italy and Spain are holding a day of action against their government’s latest austerity measures.

In Spain, protests are taking place in the capital Madrid, calling for a halt to constitutional reforms which could cap any future budget deficits.

In Italy, trade unions have begun a general strike against the government’s latest austerity measures as parliament debates $64bn in cuts over the next two years.

The strikes have caused cancellations to some flights, trains and buses, while most government offices have been closed for the day.

CGIL, which called Tuesday’s strike, is Italy’s largest union federation.

Smaller, more moderate union federations are rejecting the strike, saying there is no point in taking action against employers when everybody’s jobs are at risk.

“These austerity measures are also irresponsible, they are measures that dump on the worker, on the public workers, all the costs of this crisis and this difficult financial situation,” Susanna Camusso, the secretary-general of CGIL, told Al Jazeera.

“It is an austerity measure that does not take into consideration the future of the country and what should be necessary for growth.”

Al Jazeera’s Nadim Baba, reporting from Rome, said: “Many Italians know that some cuts are inevitable, hence not hundreds of thousands have turned out.”

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s centre-right cabinet adopted the draft $64bn plan on August 12 in a bid to calm market fears and bring Italy’s budget into balance in 2013, instead of 2014 as was initially planned.

The Italian parliament is widely expected to adopt the plan to help cut government spending and raising some taxes.

On Monday there were further stock market falls and a new rise in interest rates payable on Italian government debt, causing the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel to compare Italy’s economic plight to that of Greece.

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