ROME - Reuters
Italian premier Monti checks his phone as St. Peter’s Basilica dome is seen in background. Monti failed to agree with the country’s largest union on labor regulations. AP photo
Italy’s largest trade union called for a general strike over labour reforms on yesterday escalating a confrontation with Prime Minister Mario Monti that will test his resolve to push ahead with plans to transform the economy.
After weeks of negotiation, Monti announced late on March 20 that the time for talking was over and he would press on with plans to overhaul employment protection laws dating back to the 1970s, despite stiff opposition from the left-wing CGIL union.
The CGIL proposed an eight-hour general strike to protest the measures, which would allow companies to lay off individual employees for disciplinary or business reasons, saying the changes risked causing massive job losses. “This will not be a flare-up which burns out in a day as the government expects and we have a duty to get results before we see years of mass dismissals from companies,” the union’s secretariat said in a statement.
The strike would mark the biggest demonstration against technocrat premier Monti, who has already imposed painful cuts and tax hikes and an overhaul of the pension system since taking office in November.
Employers welcomed the proposed changes to laws which they say discourage companies from hiring staff, hinder investment and condemn large numbers of young people to insecure. Monti has unveiled his tougher, uncompromising side, saying while he was worried by the CGIL opposition he would not negotiate further now that he had the broad support of employers and the more moderate CISL and UIL unions.