Italian PM not backing down on reform plans in face of general strike

Facing nationwide strikes, Italian Premier Matteo Renzi says he's not backing down on plans to shake up the country's labor market in an effort to fight double-digit unemployment and bring it out of recession.

Two major trade unions in Italy have called nationwide strikes Friday to protest Renzi's plans to ease regulations to make it easier to fire workers and other labor-market reforms. Schools, hospitals, ports, airports, highways and local transportation are all expected to be affected.

During a visit Thursday to Ankara, Renzi said he had a "deep respect" for the strikers even though he disagreed with them. "Have a good day at work, for those who are working and good luck for those who are striking, with respect and without polemics," he said.