Italian Transport ministry orders exclusion of air travel industry from general strike

Italy's Transport Ministry on Tuesday ordered the exclusion of the air travel industry from a four-hour general strike labor unions have called to protest the government's 2006 budget proposal, news agencies reported.

No explanation was given and no one answered the phones at the ministry late Tuesday.

Italy's three main labor unions called the strike for Nov. 25 in response to the proposed budget, which includes some Ђ20 billion (US$24 billion) in spending cuts and revenue-raising measures to keep Italy's deficit in check.

Among the proposed measures are Ђ2 billion (US$2.3 billion) of cuts in the social security costs that companies pay on their work force.

The government last week won a confidence vote in the Senate tied to the budget, which must now be approved by the lower house. It must be approved by parliament before the end of the year,

Strikes have in recent years hit Italian industrial production, which is struggling to emerge from a prolonged recession, AP reported. V.A.

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