Italian doctors and healthcare workers have staged a nationwide strike to protest against deep incisions to the country’s health service sector.
According to the medical unit of Italy’s largest trade union, CGIL, the four-hour strike on Monday lead to the cancellation of 500,000 appointments and nearly 30,500 medical operations across the country.
The protest is part of a broader campaign set to attract thousands of people to the streets in October and increase pressure on Prime Minister Enrico Letta’s government, which plans to resume spending cuts to the healthcare sector.
Health workers unions said their contracts have remained unchanged since 2009.
Former PM Mario Monti introduced a series of spending cuts, pension changes and tax hikes in November 2011, stirring serious concern for many people in the debt-ridden country.
The government says the reforms are needed to create jobs, increase competition, and cut costs in the third largest eurozone economy, which has been slow to grow over the past decade.
Europe plunged into financial crisis in early 2008. Over the past decade, Italy has been the slowest growing economy in the eurozone.