Italian govt faces confidence vote, more strikes

By the Associated Press | December 16, 2011 | 5:20 AM EST

People wait for a tram at a tram station during a transport strike in Milan, Italy, Thursday, Dec.15, 2011. The Italian government on Thursday called for a vote of confidence on an austerity package aimed at persuading bond markets that the country can get it finances under control and emerge from the widening debt crisis. Discontent over the painful measures has been spreading. Hundreds of firefighters demonstrated outside Parliament on Thursday, as local transport called a strike. A nationwide transport strike was set to begin Thursday evening and run most of the day Friday.(AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

ROME (AP) — The Italian government faces a confidence vote over a package of austerity measures while a transport strike to protest the cuts is causing havoc for commuters across the country.

Premier Mario Monti is putting his package of new and higher taxes and pension reforms to a confidence vote in the lower Chamber of Deputies to speed up its passage.

The vote, which is expected by early evening Friday, will likely clear the measures, paving the way for final approval in the Senate within days.

The main political parties have said they would back the package despite disagreeing on some measures.

Monti says austerity is needed to save Italy from financial disaster, but unions are furious. Public transport workers idled buses and subways Friday. State railways were also on strike.