Last week, the French cut the pipeline supplying fuel to the major airports in Paris, protesting the government's plan to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62.

Now, the unrest has spread to Italy.

This is what happens when the "free money for all" runs out in socialist countries.

Tens of thousands rally against Italian government

Tens of thousands of people marched in Rome on Saturday at a trade union rally in defence of labour contracts and against the government, as the main protest leader called for a general strike.

"We have to continue this battle and to continue it we need to start planning a general strike," Maurizio Landini, head of the FIOM-CGIL metal workers union, told the flag-waving crowd in a square in central Rome.

"They are taking advantage of the crisis in order to weaken labour rights," he said, adding: "The social situation is very tough. The country is going downhill, it can't recover like it should. Unemployment is rising.

"We have to fight together. We need a plan for a new country," he added.

Epifani said that a general strike would be called after another protest on November 27 unless the government took action to address workers' concerns.