ROME, Feb. 9 (Xinhua) -- Thousands of people turned out in the Italian capital on Saturday for a joint mobilization called by Italy's "big three" trade union federations to demonstrate against some of the economic policies of Italy's rightwing-populist government.
The big three trade unions are Italian General Labor Confederation (CGIL), Italian Confederation of Workers' Unions (CISL), and Italian Labor Union (UIL).
The biggest issue, the unions argue, is that the government has failed to make enough productive investments in sectors that will create jobs in a context that sees Italy slipping into recession and shrinking industrial output.
"The block on infrastructure is causing damage that could become irreparable for our country," the CISL leader Anna Maria Furlan said in video comments published on Twitter.
"So we must immediately unblock the work sites, where over 80 billion euros have already been allocated but have not been spent, (involving) more than 400,000 jobs which are also blocked," Furlan said. "We cannot let the country go back into a decline."
The UIL chief Carmelo Barbagallo said on Twitter that "we haven't seen this many people turn out in the streets in years. The government should pay attention. There is a lot of desire to participate in the country's revival".
Barbagallo added in comments published on the union's official website that UIL approves of the government's pension reform and its basic income measure for the poor and the unemployed but "we also need public and private infrastructure investments to drive development" and create jobs.
"The country is in recession," Barbagallo said. "We want to fight for a return to (a) productive path."
Maurizio Landini, the secretary-general of the CGIL, the biggest and most leftwing of the three unions, tweeted that "the government should know that if we don't get answers, we won't stop. The country needs research, healthcare, material and immaterial infrastructure."
In a lengthy interview on Sky Tg24 private broadcaster, Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said he's not worried about the big turnout in protest against the government.
"We approved the budget just before New Year's, so clearly it will bear fruit in the coming months," he said, adding that "I take full and complete responsibility" for future economic results and that the government can't be held responsible for negative economic data stemming from past decisions.
Some 200,000 people flocked to the demonstration, according to media reports. Between them, the "big three" unions represent about 10.8 million workers, according to official union membership numbers.