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Thursday, October 02, 2003

Italian Pensions Battle Looming

With Berlusconi facing internal strife over pension reform, Edward has been posting over at Fistful:

Italy's top three unions on Tuesday called a general strike to protest pension reforms, dealing a blow to Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi after he made a TV plea for support in changing the bankrupt system. The unions, which have more than 11 million members, declared a four-hour work stoppage for October 24, the third general strike since Berlusconi came to power in May 2001. The media magnate-turned-politician was beamed into Italian homes on Monday night and in almost fatherly tones warned that pension reform was "necessary, fair and wise" if the country's economic and social fabric were to survive.

But the unions gave him short shrift, saying it was not true that Italy's pensions system needed overhauling. "We ask all workers, young people and pensioners to take to the streets and defend a system which is not in trouble," the leaders of the CGIL, CISL and UIL unions said in a statement. "There is no pensions emergency. The government...is dramatizing the pensions problem. It doesn't correspond to reality," they added. The prospect of a united union front will alarm Berlusconi as he struggles to banish the ghosts of 1994, when his first government collapsed over the same pensions issue as millions downed tools in protest. Appearing to pre-empt the union response, he said on Monday that those denying that the system needed altering were "not only doing their country a disservice but were also deceiving themselves."
Source: Reuters

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