Hundreds of thousands of workers downed tools and took to the streets in a four hour stoppage stating "we won't pay for the crisis".
The strike by the General Confederation of Italian workers (CGIL) shut down postal services nationwide, transport services and airports in several cities and many automobile manufacturers, in some of which strikers were joined by members of other unions.
Despite the rain, tens of thousands marched in Rome, 200,000 workers rallied in Bologna, 30,000 in Turin, 50,000 in Milan, 40,000 in Naples, 10,000 in Genoa and many more gathered elsewhere.
In the face of the crisis, with Italy now officially in recession, workers are demanding higher wages, better pensions, more labour rights and lower unemployment.
The union called off stoppages were transport workers in flood-hit Rome and Venice.