Thousands of agricultural workers went on strike for eight hours across Italy on Friday against a government attempt to rob them of welfare and pension rights.
The action, called by the three main confederations CGIL, CISL and UIL in the first co-ordinated agricultural strike of modern times, included demonstrations in Naples, Campania and Bari, Puglia, in the south and Perugia, Umbria in the north.
Already 9 per cent of agricultural workers are on fixed-term contracts with low wages and the unelected Monti administration's measures will lead to further casualisation of the workforce, unions warned.
Up to a million workers would be hit by the planned changes to employment laws and modifications to the pension system passed late last year.
Unions said agricultural workers will lose pension contributions, unemployment benefits, maternity rights and sick pay, reducing them "to the most complete precarity and denying them, at the end of their working lives, even the meanest pension."
Migrant workers, who make up the majority of farm labourers, will be hit the hardest.
The strikes come as fresh data shows widespread pensioner poverty among small farmers. About 1.2 million receive just €600(£489) a month on average, when they retire, with some getting pensions as low as €300 (244) a month, according to analysis of official statistics by Federpensionati Coldiretti, a small farmers' association.
Mario Monti's unelected "technocrat" government replaced Silvio Berlusconi's right-wing administration in November with a mandate from the EU, IMF and European Central Bank to implement pushing austerity measures and neo-liberal reforms to "reassure" speculators in the financial markets.
Austerity is not affecting the wealthiest 1 per cent of households however who have €5.3 million (£4.32m) euros in assets on average, official figures show.
The government again this week rejected calls to introduce a wealth tax.
Mr Monti's austerity madness and deregulatory zeal has provoked massive protests.
Strikes in sectors ranging from finance to manufacturing and retail have been occurring almost daily in recent weeks.
A poll published on Thursday showed that his government's approval rating dropped 5 per centage points from March to 45 per cent.
If you appreciated this article then please consider donating to the Morning Star's Fighting Fund to ensure we can keep developing your paper.
Communities across Britain should be on guard against the efforts of troublemakers to set us against each other in the wake of the sickening butchery of soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich.
Attacks such as yesterday's horrific murder in Woolwich didn't happen before the 'war on terror.' It's time we recognised the consequences of the conflicts we've unleashed
Why the US Department of Justice and the Serious Fraud Office are investigating the bank's deals in the Middle East