[QODLink]
Europe

Thousands protest against austerity in Italy

Labour unions urge new Prime Minister Enrico Letta to focus on job growth instead of further spending cuts.

Last Modified: 18 May 2013 20:40
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Confidence in the Italian government has dropped to 43 percent just weeks after the elections [EPA]

Thousands of people have protested in Rome against austerity policies and high unemployment, urging new Prime Minister Enrico Letta to focus on creating jobs to help pull the country out of recession.

"We hope that this government will finally start listening to us because we are losing our patience," said Enzo Bernardis, who joined the sea of protesters waving red flags and calling for more workers' rights and better contracts on Saturday.

After less than a month in power, Letta is trying to hold together an uneasy coalition between his centre-left Democratic party and the centre-right People of Freedom, led by former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Confidence in the government, cobbled together after inconclusive elections, is already falling, with one poll on Friday by the SWG institute showing its approval rating had dropped to 34 percent from 43 percent at the start of the month.

"We can't wait anymore" and "We need money to live" were among slogans on banners held up by the crowds.

'Need to start over'

Letta promised to make jobs his top priority when he came to power in April after two months of political deadlock. But several protesters complained he was not sticking to his vow, focusing instead on a property tax reform outlined this week.

Union leaders said he needed to shift away from the austerity agenda pursued by former prime minister Mario Monti, who introduced a range of spending cuts, tax hikes and pension reform to shore up strained public finances.

"We need to start over with more investment. If we don't restart with public and private investments, there will no new jobs," said Maurizio Landini, secretary-general of the left-wing metalworkers union Fiom.

Italy is stuck in its longest recession since quarterly records began in 1970, and jobless rates are close to record highs, with youth unemployment at around 38 percent.

Other protesters were pessimistic that Letta's fragile government would be able to take effective action.

"This government will last a very short time," said demonstrator Marco Silvani. What we need is a new leftist party that fights for the rights of the people," he said.

339

Source:
Reuters
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Mother of jailed Al Jazeera journalist Abdullah Elshamy says her son's ordeal highlights the value of press freedom.
French Jews and Muslims say recent National Front victories in mayoral races reflect rising xenophobia.
Western fighters have streamed into the Middle East to help 'liberate' Arab countries such as Syria and Libya.
The Pakistani government is proposing reform of the nation's madrassas, which are accused of fostering terrorism.
Featured
Survivors of Bangladesh garment factory collapse say they received little compensation and face economic hardship.
As Iraq prepares to vote, deadly violence is surging. But at the site of one bomb attack, people insist life must go on.
French Jews and Muslims say recent National Front victories in mayoral races reflect rising xenophobia.
Up to 23,000 federal prisoners could qualify for clemency under new Justice Department initiative.
After years of rapid growth, Argentina is bracing for another economic crisis as inflation eats up purchasing power.
join our mailing list