Italy Passes Austerity Measures Amid Strikes

Furious unions protest with transport shutdown
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 16, 2011 7:06 AM CST
Updated Dec 16, 2011 8:04 AM CST
People wait for a tram at a tram station during a transport strike in Milan, Italy, Thursday, Dec.15, 2011.   (Luca Bruno)
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(Newser) – The Italian government today easily won a confidence vote on its package of austerity measures in the lower chamber of Parliament as more protest strikes hit the country. Premier Mario Monti had called the vote in the Chamber of Deputies to speed passage of the $39 billion in extra taxes and pension reforms that he says are vital to save Italy, the eurozone's third largest economy, from financial disaster.

The package was approved by a vote of 495 in favor and 88 against. Had it been blocked, Monti and his government of technocrats would have been forced to resign—exactly a month after the economist and former EU commissioner was sworn in. The Senate is expected to vote on the measures in the next few days to complete the legislative approval. As lawmakers voted, a one-day nationwide transportation strike caused chaos for commuters. Unions are incensed over pension reforms making Italians work more years before being eligible for pension checks. (Read more austerity measures stories.)

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