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'I want to get Italians into work': Renzi

'I want to get Italians into work': Renzi
Matteo Renzi said he will push ahead with employment reform despite opposition from unionists. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi hit back at unionists on Thursday over a planned general strike, arguing that controversial government reforms would create much-needed jobs after years of "lost opportunity".

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Speaking on radio RTL 102.5, Renzi said the December 12th strike announced by unionists on Wednesday will do little to tackle the unemployment crisis.

“There have been more strikes in recent weeks than with all other other governments, pleasing them, pleasing everyone.

“If this is their aim, good, but I’m not working towards getting Italians to strike, but getting them to work,” Renzi was quoted in Rai News as saying.

The prime minister is facing strong opposition as he tries to push his so-called Jobs Act through parliament, which will make workers more vulnerable to being fired. The government argues the new law will lead to more mobility and jobs for young Italians - who currently face a youth unemployment rate of 42.9 percent.

“Italy has lost many opportunities in recent years, and a million job positions in six years,” Renzi said.

The left-wing premier said he had “respect” for the strikers, “but at the moment the government is looking to get employment back on track.”

Renzi set himself up for further clashes with union leaders, by promising to push forward with the reform whether they “like it or not”.

The December walkout was announced by the CGIL and UIL unions, whose members are planning rallies to coincide with the strike. Next month’s action comes after anti-reform protesters and police clashed in nationwide strikes and marches on Friday.

READ MORE: Clashes erupt at Italy's anti-reform protests

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