Italy's UIL and CGIL trade unions
staged a big demonstration in Rome's Piazza del Popolo square
and held a curtailed general strike on Friday in protest against
the government's 2024 budget bill, which is currently before
Deputy Premier and Transport Minister Matteo Salvini issued an injunction limiting the one-day protest to four hours in the transport sector after the nation's strike watchdog said the stoppage did not meet the requirements for a general strike and should be rescheduled.
The unions have said they will appeal against the decision, accusing the government of attacking the right to strike and the watchdog of being compliant to the executive's demands.
The unions said 60,000 people took part in the Rome demo and 70% of workers called on to strike joined in.
"The streets are packed in a way we have not seen for years," said CGIL leader Maurizio Landini, "This is the most beautiful, strongest, most intelligent and firmest response we could give to those who decided to impose an injunction and question the right to strike.
"This is a real attack on democracy'.
The transport ministry said the strike had little impact on the rail network, with no high-speed trains cancelled and under 16% of regional-train staff taking part in the strike.
Premier Giorgia Meloni blasted the strike, saying it was announced in the summer when "I hadn't even thought of" the budget.
She also defended the government's decision to issue an injunction.
"An independent authority reported that the requirements for a general strike had not been met," Meloni said. "It's not something I decided, I have great respect for workers' rights."
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