Italian workers protest nationwide

MILAN (AP) — Workers are marching across Italy to protest new work rules at two Fiat plants that one union holdout says erodes workers rights.

The FIOM metalworkers union organized demonstrations to vent ire at contracts at two Fiat SpA plants that they say undermine Italy’s national contract system. The deals were signed by other unions.

FIOM also called for a metalworkers’ strike. It said 50 percent of workers at Fiat’s Melfi plant struck, shutting down one line, and that Fiat halved production at Cassino in response.

While the Fiat contracts were the rallying cry for the protests Friday, few of the 10,000 protesters in Milan were Fiat workers. Many came from other sectors that have been hit by the economic crisis, which has idled many Italian factories and sent some companies abroad.

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