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Thousands in Rome protest Italian austerity cuts

Prime Minister Enrico Letta of Italy, listens to a question during an event at the Brookings Institute, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013, in Washington. The event is to discuss how Italy and Europe should move forward in this period of recovery following the economic crisis. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

ROME (AP) -- Thousands of workers are demonstrating in Rome against the Italian government's new budget, which they say will bring more hardship.

The protests were accompanied Friday by a 24-hour nationwide strike that caused disruptions for travelers. Train service was guaranteed in most cities for morning and evening commutes, but airports in Rome, Naples, Milan and Bologna had to cancel some flights. Some school and health workers also went on strike.

The USB and COBAS unions organized Friday's strike to protest austerity measures reducing transportation budgets. USB union coordinator Pierpaolo Leonardi accused the Italian government of imposing EU directives without concern for the impact on workers.

A smaller protest of about 600 workers was held in Milan.