Italy's civil servants strike over austerity plan

Italy's civil servants strike over austerity plan

MILAN - Agence France-Presse
Italys civil servants strike over austerity plan

A man walks across a street in Milan, Italy, Friday, Dec. 16, 2011. AP photo

Italian civil servants including hospital workers went on strike Monday to protest against the austerity plan of the new government led by Prime Minister Mario Monti.

Doctors and nurses at state-run hospitals are providing only emergency procedures as they observe the day-long strike called by Italy's three main unions.

Teachers from elementary through high school are observing only the last hour of the strike, while university professors and administrative workers are staying away all day.

Postal workers are observing the last three hours of the action.

Demonstrations are planned in several cities including Rome, where the unions will rally outside parliament.

The unions called for "radical changes" to the plan to make it more equitable and not rest only "on the shoulders of workers and pensioners" but target "tax cheats and the very wealthy." But Monti has said there was "very little" room for manoeuvre.

Italian lawmakers formally adopted the measures last Friday with a view to balancing the budget by 2013 in order to reassure the markets.

The Senate is expected to pass the bill into law this week.

The plan -- the third put forward since the summer -- calls for heavy sacrifices through pension reforms and the reinstatement of a property tax on principal residences that was abolished in 2008.

Last Monday saw a three-hour work stoppage by private sector workers.