A general strike has been called for 24 October by all three major unions, with a four-hour walk-out planned by workers to protest the pensions reforms announced by prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. Buses, trams, metros and coaches in the Rome area will stop running 09.30-13.30, while trains and boats nationwide will be affected 09.00-13.00 and air traffic 12.30-16.30. Employees of Ama, who are responsible for rubbish collections in Rome, will be on strike for the whole day, and schools, universities and post offices will be closed.
A demonstration which is expected to attract up to 50,000 people in Rome will begin at 09.30 in Via Petroselli and makes its way to Piazza Navona along Via del Teatro Marcello, Via Botteghe Oscure, Largo Argentina and Corso Vittorio Emanuele. The strike has been called by the Confederazione Generale Italiana del Lavoro (Cigl), the Confederazione Italiana Sindacati Lavoratori (Cisl) and the Unione Italiana del Lavoro (Uil), which between them have more than 11 million members. The proposed pension reforms would mean that from 2008 workers could not retire until they had made 40 years of contributions, compared with 35 years currently.