Even some leading employers are flinching at the human cost of the latest austerity measures of Mario Monti’s ‘technocratic’ government.
The country’s first UK-style spending review now heading for parliament will see big cuts to health expenditure and to the public-sector workforce as part of a 26 billion euros reduction in expenditure over the next three years.
Among the victims of Monti’s austerity madness will be 24,000 Italian civil servants who are set to lose their jobs.
And that’s on top of thousands more who could face the sack under labour market deregulation that makes it easier for companies to dismiss staff, in a country where already unemployment is over 10% and at over 30% among young people.
And then there’s the big increases in the cost of living and a decline in the quality of essential public services imposed through an austerity package of tax hikes and spending cuts in December.
Things are so bad that Italians, who rightly love their food, are cutting back on both the quantity and quality of what they eat and are being forced in increasing numbers to shop at discount supermarkets.
Now, whether its out of genuine brotherly feelings towards their fellow Italians, or more likely fears that these measures risk deepening and prolonging the country’s fourth recession since 2001, and thus undermining profits, the fact is Monti’s market fundamentalism is making some business leaders twitchy.
And that includes non other than the leader of industrial employers’ confederation Confindustria, Giorgio Squinzi. The prime minister, he said at a conference on Saturday, was running the risk of committing ‘social butchery’.
Some Confindustria members such as Ferrari Chairman and former Confindustria head Luca Cordero di Montezemolo have distanced themselves from Squinzi’s comments, perhaps because ‘social butchery’ is a phrase borrowed from Italy’s trade unions.
But such as the scale of the damage being inflicted on Italian society by the former European Commissioner that unions, in their bid to stop this austerity madness, may be increasingly finding themselves on the same side as their traditional industrial foes.