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Marchers in Rome protest Italian - 2.7 MILLION AT CIRCO MASSIMO

by Freedom
The Cgil provides data of the event: 2,7 million people at Circo Massimo.
Rome - Tens of thousands of people gathered in Rome Saturday to protest what they say is the inadequate response to the country's economic woes by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's government.

Demonstrators set off through the city's streets on five separate marches organized by the country' largest labour union confederation, CGIL.

Participants included several political leaders including Dario Franceschini who heads the main centre-left opposition Democratic Party.

Italy's economy, Europe's fourth-largest, could contract by 4.3 per cent this year as exports are hit by the global economic downturn, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said this week.

Unemployment in Italy in the fourth quarter of 2008 rose to its highest level for over two years as the economic recession began to take a heavy toll on the labour market, according to data issued this week.

The seasonally-adjusted jobless rate rose to 6.9 percent from 6.7 percent in the previous three months, reaching its highest level since the second quarter of 2006, but analysts said the worst was still to come.

Some 1.73 million people are estimated to be out of out of work in Italy. (dpa)
by Gina Doggett
April 4, 2009 - 11:34PM

Several hundred thousand workers, pensioners, immigrants and students filled a Rome park on Saturday to protest the Italian government's handling of the financial crisis.

Led by Italy's largest union, the left-wing Italian General Confederation of Labour, many wore red hats or waved the CGIL's red flag as helicopters circled above.

"There's too big a gap between what needs to be done and what is being done," CGIL leader Guglielmo Epifani told the throng, with banners reading "Together to Build a Different Future" and "Down with the New Mussolini."

"It's a pleasure to see the park filled once more," he said, recalling a mass protest in 2002 that drew three million people to the same venue to protest a bill that would have annulled a law protecting against unfair dismissal.

That protest occurred under the last government of Silvio Berlusconi, who was elected to a third stint as prime minister last year.

Forty trainloads and nearly 5,000 buses as well as two ships ferried protesters to Rome from all over Italy, and they converged at Circo Massimo, an ancient hippodrome that is now a public park.

Opposition Democratic Party leader Dario Franceschini received a rock star welcome at the protest.

"It is a falsehood... to say that since the crisis is global the solutions can only be at an international level," he said. "The crisis must be faced with concrete measures taken by national governments."

Franceschini initially hesitated to attend because of divisions within the Italian union movement, notably over the CGIL's rejection of contract reforms approved by two smaller unions.

Berlusconi has accused the media of exaggerating the crisis and insisted that Italy is doing more than any other country to address the situation.

Italy went into recession in the third quarter of last year, and gross domestic product (GDP) contracted 1.0 percent for the year in the worst downturn since 1975.

Industry has been hard hit by the crisis, resulting in a spate of temporary layoffs. Job losses totalled some 370,500 in January and February, a 46 percent jump over the same period last year.

Some of Saturday's protesters chanted "Mister Obamaaaa ..." to mimic Berlusconi's antics at the Group of 20 group photo session in London on Thursday, when he called out loudly to the US president to get his attention.

One poster, merging Berlusconi's name with Obama's, proclaimed: "Berluscama, Yes You Can't."

Another, in a reference to the right-wing leadership's tough stance on crime, notably of Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno, read: "Make the City Safer," with an image of Berlusconi behind bars.

Epifani pledged that the CGIL would keep up the pressure, citing key dates such as the April 25 national day, Labour Day on May 1, and Republic Day on June 2.
by Mike Harrison
April 4 (Bloomberg) -- As many as 2.7 million people have joined a protest in Rome to protest the Italian government’s response to the economic crisis, the Associated Press said, citing CGIL, the country’s biggest national labor union.

The union said 40 trains, two boats and 4,800 buses had been used to transport Italians from across the country to the rally today, AP reported.
Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators gathered in central Rome to demand concerted government action to combat the economic downturn.

Rome's ancient Circus Maximus was a sea of red on Saturday, April 4, as hundreds of thousands of banner-waving demonstrators converged on the center of the Italian capital to protest the government’s response to the economic crisis.

Leaders from Italy's largest union, the CGIL, urged Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to open negotiations with them to discuss ways of dealing with the crisis.

"The government keeps making announcements instead of taking proper actions like giving a cheque to people who lose their jobs," said one protester, Achille Mantovani.

"Berlusconi talks and talks but the money never shows up."

Other protesters shouted "Ciao Silvio, ciao Silvio" as one procession meandered past the Colosseum while one worker held up a banner saying "Enough! It's time Italy fires Berlusconi."

Berlusconi has accused the media of exaggerating the situation and has insisted that Italy is doing more than other countries to address the economic downturn.

Italy went into recession in the third quarter and job losses jumped 46 percent in the first two months of 2009 compared to the same period last year.
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