Labor unions staged a strike in Italy's public-service sector on Friday in opposition to the government's spending review to save billions of euros by laying off some 24,000 state employees.
Strikers included civil servants, university employees and doctors, ruling out all but emergency medical visits. Labor leaders organized demonstrations across the capital.
"The idea of cutting jobs is the last thing Italy needs," said Susanna Camusso, the head of Italy's powerful CGIL union confederation. School employees are planning a similar strike on October 12. The cuts, which among other things aim to avert a 2% increase in VAT scheduled for October, include a 10% reduction of staff and 20% reduction of managers in Italy's large public administration, as well as trimming benefits.
The International Monetary Fund has called the plan "a step in the right direction" that will help Italy cut its 1.95-trillion-euro debt load, but added that deeper measures would be necessary to "reinforce prospects for the medium term".