11 Sep 2011

Mussel shells dumped at parliament in austerity protest

6:27 am on 11 September 2011

Mussel shells were dumped in front of Italy's parliament in Rome on Saturday, in a protest against politicians clinging to their privileges like mussels cling to rocks while imposing austerity measures on everyone else.

The shells had names of parliamentarians written on them.

Italians have increasingly been demanding that the political class take its share of the pain by renouncing perks and privileges, such as subsidized lunches and haircuts, free flights and generous pension and health benefits.

members of the lower house of parliament will begin debating a 54 billion euro package of revised austerity measures on Monday before a vote later in the week.

The programme was approved in the Senate on Wednesday following mounting pressure on Italian government bonds and growing impatience among Rome's European partners.

It includes a 1 percentage point rise in value-added tax, adjustments to pension rules and a special 3% levy on incomes over 300,000 euros ($US422,000) as well as cuts in government spending.