Italy's main trade union calls general strike

Italy's biggest trade union, the CGIL, has called for a general strike against the government's new austerity plans.

Union chief Susanna Camusso, speaking in the daily La Repubblica newspaper, said the CGIL (Italian General Confederation of Labour) would hold a meeting on August 23 to fix a date for the strike.

"I can't see any other way to oppose the iniquity of this austerity plan," she added.

Italy's cabinet on Friday approved a 45.5-billion-euro ($64.8-billion) austerity package of spending cuts and tax hikes that Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said was due to pressure from Finland, Germany and the Netherlands.

The draft measures -- which must still go before parliament for final approval expected early September -- include a new tax on high earners and deep cuts to local government and cabinet costs.

They seek to assuage jittery markets by returning Italy to a balanced budget in 2013 instead of 2014 as previously planned, and come on top of a 48-billion-euro package agreed in July when Rome first came under pressure.

CGIL secretary general Camusso said that after the extraordinary meeting of the union's leader next week to fix a date for a general strike the proposal will go out to fellow unions to join the industrial action.

She warned that the government's fiscal plans would hit economic growth.

The plans also favour a liberalised economy, privatisations and make it easier for employers to hire and fire.



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