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Government workers strike
Public service workers strike against government austerity measures
By The Associated Press

ROME (AP) ' Thousands of government workers staged strikes Monday and joined demonstrations across Italy to protest tax and pension changes that are part of the government's austerity package.

The strike hobbled services in hospitals, post offices and government offices for the entire day. Unions guaranteed emergency services in hospitals.

Union leader Susanna Camusso told a rally in front of the Parliament building that the reforms put an unfair burden on the working class and do little to fight tax evasion.

"It is not acceptable for the workers, it is not acceptable for the pensioners, it is not acceptable for those who already struggled to get to the end of the month," Camusso said.

"The government should come down from its teaching chair and join the real world," she said, alluding to the university background of Premier Monti and many of the ministers in his government of technocrats.

The government package of euro30 billion ($39 billion) in new taxes and pension reforms has already been approved by the lower house of Parliament and final approval by the Senate is expected by Friday.

Monti is counting on the support of the major political parties in his efforts to protect Italy from becoming the next victim of Europe's debt crisis.

Former Premier Silvio Berlusconi, who has been backing Monti's program, denied Monday that he intended to "pull the plug" on Monti next month.

"I don't believe there is anybody who can predict how long the government can last," Berlusconi told reporters during a pause in his trial in Milan on corruption charges,

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