Italian budget in home stretch, unions on warpath

ROME - Italy's austerity budget, vital to get Rome's accounts in order and help save the euro from collapse, enters its final stretch this week, with unions still mounting roadblocks to its path.
The 33 billion euro ($43 billion) package of cost cuts and new taxes was passed by the Chamber of Deputies on Friday after Prime Minister Mario Monti's one-month-old government won a confidence vote earlier in the day.
It has now moved from the lower house to the Senate, whose leader Renato Schifani promised on Sunday that it would go through before Christmas. Most observers expect it to be definitively approved on December 23.
Italian Industry Minister Corrado Passera said later that the new government had no plans to introduce a second round of austerity, contradicting Giulio Tremonti - finance minister until November - who said more was very likely.
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