ITALY – The pensions secretary at the Italian Uil union says a general strike over pension reform cannot be ruled out – although he says it would be the last resort.

Unione Italiana del Lavoro national pension secretary Adriano Musi said in an interview that there was a “wide” range of solutions opened to the unions in case of final talks on Monday with the government.

Musi said the talks would take place in Rome on Monday with deputy prime minister Gianfranco Fini, welfare minister Roberto Maroni, economy and finance minister Giulio Tremonti, EU minister Rocco Buttiglione.

“The range of options that we have in a democracy is like a keyboard, a strike is only one key," he said.

Monday’s talks are widely expected to the final round in a series which began in December. Musi said that he and delegates from the other two main unions, Cisl and Cgil, would represent the workers.

Unions’ meetings on “the technical side of the matter”, Musi said, had taken place only with Maroni. During the week Maroni characterised them as “talks” not “negotiations” - yesterday he called a negotiation on pension reform “inopportune”.

Maroni said yesterday that the meeting was useful and that it might lead to changes.

On the agenda on Monday will be issues like alternative pension schemes, still relatively new in Italy, and the so-called “gobba”, the pension expense curve. The economy minister says this figure will hit around 16% of gross national product in 2033.