Rome

Unions urge Bersani to focus on real economy

CGIL wants IMU tax lifted from less wealthy households

Unions urge Bersani to focus on real economy

(By Paul Virgo) Rome, March 25 - Trade union leaders on Monday called on centre-left leader Pier Luigi Bersani to focus on the real economy if he manages to form a government. Bersani met trade unionists and business representatives as part of talks after Italian President Giorgio Napolitano gave him a mandate to try to form a government in his role as the leader of the coalition that came first in last month's inconclusive general election. "It's necessary to stop the crisis the economy is going through and the country's decline," said Susanna Camusso, the head of Italy's biggest trade-union confederation, the left-wing CGIL. "So the emphasis should be put on providing answers for the world of work. "A government of change is needed that starts to deal with the real economy and people's situations," she added after meeting Bersani. Outgoing Premier Mario Monti's emergency technocrat administration eased concern on the international money markets about Italy's ability to weather the eurozone crisis but his austerity measures deepened the country's recession and pushed unemployment up to record highs over 11%. Camusso said she had requested that the unpopular IMU property tax introduced by Monti be lifted for less wealthy households - those that currently pay 1,000 euros or less in IMU a year. Luigi Angeletti, the head of the more moderate UIL union, said the next government's priorities should be reducing labour taxes, reducing the cost of Italy's political system and making sure public sector debts to Italian businesses are paid. "We said that it's necessary to give an important, decisive signal on how to tackle the economic emergency," said Angeletti after Monday's encounter. "This takes absolute priority even over the political crisis that the elections delivered us. "The situation is serious, if not dramatic". If Bersani is unable to form a government capable of passing a confidence vote in parliament, Italy may have to return to the polls later this year. At the moment there appears to be a strong likelihood this will be necessary given the current political deadlock. Bersani has ruled out the prospect of forming a grand coalition with ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right People of Freedom (PdL) party. The anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, which holds the balance of power in the Senate after capturing a huge protest vote, has said it will not back a Bersani administration. Raffaele Bonanni, the leader of the CISL union, said that "we are strongly opposed to another election". "It's necessary to form a government at all costs," he added. "The situation is dramatic and the country needs an agreement between the political parties. "A shrewd, responsible political class must find a way to come together".

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