THE THREE major trade union federations in Italy have organised a four-hour general strike for Friday 24 October.
This is the first stage of their battle against the attacks on pensions by the right wing government of Silvio Berlusconi.
After talks broke down last week, Berlusconi appeared on all the major television stations giving the government's side of the story and demanding pension 'reform'.
Berlusconi owns three TV channels and the government controls three others. Workers across the country were disgusted by this 'invasion' of their homes.
There were spontaneous strikes against the broadcast the next day. Building workers at Port Marghera struck for two hours.
Workers also struck at the Pirelli tyre factory in Milan and the Candy factory in Milan, on the Milan underground and in the Fiat factories in Sicily and around Naples.
The trade unions called pickets outside TV stations.
The anger against Berlusconi could be seen when 250,000 marched through central Rome last Saturday in protest at the gathering of European Union (EU) leaders, who were drawing up a new constitution.
Another 50,000 marched to their meeting place.
Police used teargas and the government whipped up a scare about protesters aiming to trash the Italian capital.
It was unfortunate that there were two marches-one made up mainly of trade unionists and members of the Rifondazione Comunista and the other mainly young anti-capitalists.
But both declared their solidarity with each other and were united in opposition to war and an EU constitution which attacks workers.
Marco is a public sector worker and activist in the CGIL, the main trade union federation. He travelled from Naples to Rome and told Socialist Worker:
'It is important that we do not work separately. We have to fight together over pensions, health and education.'
Agnesse, a pensioner and Rifondazione member from Rome, said, 'We need a programme of action from below to get rid of Berlusconi.'
Fausto Bertinotti, the leader of Rifondazione, argued that mass action on the streets and in the workplaces was necessary to get rid of Berlusconi.
Berlusconi's government has seen massive protests from the unions and the anti-capitalist movement since it came to power in May 2001.
His last government was brought down by a revolt against pension 'reform'.