An estimated 100,000 workers and jobless people have marched in Rome to protest against record unemployment and call on Enrico Letta’s new government to deliver more than empty rhetoric on the issue.
Saturday’s rally, organised by Italy’s three largest union confederations, CGIL, CISL and UIL, was the first major protest since Letta’s broad, left-right coalition took office after an inconclusive election in February.
Italian unemployment hit 12 percent in April, the highest level on record, and joblessness among people under 24 is at an all-time high above 40 percent.
The protesters demanded growth measures and protection for workers who are sent into pre-retirement without a pension.
Union chiefs including Susanna Camusso, leader of the country’s largest union CGI, criticised Letta for what they called a lack of action on an urgent problem.
"We can’t accept these continuous promises that aren’t translated into decisions that give a change of direction," Camusso said.
The government released $4bn last week for infrastructure projects to create 30,000 jobs.
But Luigi Angeletti, head of the UIL, said the country could not afford the piecemeal approach to policy adopted so far, especially when the ruling coalition is so fragile.