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article image'Week of strikes' looms over Italian austerity measures

By Andrew Ardizzi     Dec 12, 2011 in World
Italy faces a "week of strikes," urged largely by the country's three largest labour unions, following Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti's €33 billion austerity package.
The unions claim Monti's cuts are unfair, citing the austerity measures as possessing unfathomable degrees of inequality. In response to Monti's package, it is expected most newspapers will cease publication Dec. 13, while public transit strikes will be held Dec. 15 and 16. Port, highway and haulage personnel will be taking to the streets Dec. 12, UK Net Guide reports.
The report states the unions have suggested the Italian government raise money through tax increases upon the wealthy as opposed to boosting levies on pensioners and low-income wage earners.
Also contained within Prime Minister's Monti's austerity package is a measure which would see the Italian Catholic Church pay property taxes to the state to help bring the country out of its economic crisis.
The Telegraph reports the movement towards pushing the church to pay property taxes is born from the centre-left who believe it unfair that commercially owned church properties charge guests four-star hotel rates and are exempt from property taxes.
The Telegraph report states the church owns 50,000 cathedrals, churches or chapels, 11,000 schools and nearly 5,000 hospitals.
The Catholic Church is considering the measure in an effort to help the country balance its budget, the Daily Mail reports.
"The Church is willing to review the agreements that extend to the paying of ICI on properties belonging to religious institutions," Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, leader of the Italian Bishops Conference, told the Daily Mail. "If there are points that need clarifying or reviewing then there will be prejudgement from our part."
The strikes and opposition from unions stem from Monti's proposal which would see tax increases for Italians' primary residences, a reform abolished by former PM Silvio Berlusconi, in addition to dramatic labour reforms and pension reductions.
A recent Italian survey indicates an overwhelming majority approve of tax increases on luxury items, while only 35 per cent would welcome the reinstatement of a property levy.
More about Italy, Austerity measures, Mario Monti, Andrew Ardizzi
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