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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Italian Sides Ready for Labor Talks

ROME -- Senior Italian ministers lined up Wednesday to express willingness to resume talks with unions over labor reforms, a day after an eight-hour general strike brought the country to a near standstill.

While industry groups questioned the exact level of worker participation in the stoppage, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and his ministers appeared keen to put the day behind them and return to talks with restive labor leaders.

Moments before leaving for a visit to Romania, Berlusconi struck a conciliatory note, saying his government was ready to talk when the unions wanted, although he added that reform was still the best thing for the labor market.

"The government has invited the other social parties to resume dialogue and has said it is ready whenever they are to take up the opportunity," he told reporters.

Labor Minister Roberto Maroni, who for six months before the strike met union leaders on a near daily basis to try to come up with an agreement on freeing up labor laws, said he expected negotiations to resume "within days."