ITALY - The general strike called by three of Italy's biggest trade unions on Friday to protest against the pension reform process has been "very successful."
Unions estimated that around 80% of Italian workers supported the strike by not attending work, while thousands attended demonstrations and rallies being held throughout the country.
And unions are now organising another major pension protest in Rome on April 3. Half a million workers are expected to protest against government policies in the demonstration.
Friday’s general strike called by by the CGIL, CSIL and the UIL disrupted most public services with schools, post-offices and banks shut all day.
One CGIL official said: “The strike has been very successful. We had around 200,000 workers at our demonstration in Milan. There were an estimated 120,000 at the CISL rally in Palermo and another 80,000 at the UIL demonstration in Rome. There were roughly around 60 other rallies across the country.
“We are adopting a platform of protest and proposal. We have placed our proposals with the government and it is now up to them to meet us halfway. We feel that that the government is not doing enough either on the pensions front or on the economic front.”
The Italian government had modified pension reform proposals following similar protests in October and December. As per new proposals presented to parliament, a worker must be at least 60 years old and have paid 35 years of contributions into the state pension to retire.
In 2010, the age limit rises to 61 years, while in 2014 it increases to 62 if savings have been insufficient.
Currently, a worker can retire at the age of 57 as long as 35 years of pension contributions have been paid or at any age with 38 years of contributions.
The government says that the new rules will save public finances more than e39bn in the 2008-13 period of 0.7% of GDP.
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