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Italian Protesters Clash with Police, Climb Colosseum, and Egg German Embassy

Tens of thousands of Italians descended on dozens of cities across the country today, in sometimes violent protests against proposed labor and social reforms.

by Alice Speri
Nov 14 2014, 6:58pm

Image via AP/Gregorio Borgia

Students and labor unions took to the streets across Italy today in a day of action they dubbed a "social strike" to protest proposed economic and social reforms in the country.

Tens of thousands of people walked off their jobs, rallied and shut down traffic in dozens of cities, demonstrating against Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's latest job act, against EU austerity measures and demanding higher pensions, a guaranteed minimum wage, and an end to the privatization of public services.

In some places the rallies turned into violent clashes — with some protesters throwing eggs, flares, and smoke bombs as police responded with tear gas and charged the crowd. 

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Video via Instagram/ Carlo Vitelloni

At least 13 people were injured in Milan, where one of the largest protests took place, with an estimated 10,000 people. The video above shows protesters clashing with shield and baton-wielding officers in Padua, another city also in the north of the country. Some officers, including a local police chief, were injured in those confrontations.

In Rome, the capital, where 15,000 people took to the streets, protesters threw eggs against the Ministry of Economy and the German embassy, and 10 employees of an unnamed private company climbed up the Colosseum, where they remained into the evening holding a banner against the privatization of public services.

Elsewhere in the city, dozens of protesters dressed as the Nintendo video game character Mario — an Italian plumber — walked into the city's utilities agency to protest the privatization of water and electricity services. 

Another 20,000 people protested in Naples.

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The protests were coordinated by a number of large unions, joined by more than 100,000 students and temp workers.

At the heart of the protests is legislation, currently under review, that would reform Italy's labor market by making it easier for companies to hire and fire employees. The government claims the measures are necessary to address Italy's rampant unemployment. Many other Italians clearly disagree.

Follow Alice Speri on Twitter: @alicesperi