Travellers and commuters in Italy faced delays on Friday as several national trade unions staged a 24-hour strike, disrupting transport services as well as some public schools.

Rome and Italy's financial capital Milan were hardest hit, with buses, trams and underground services set to operate a full service only during the morning and evening rush hour. In Rome, many rubbish collection workers also walked off the job.

Unions called the strike to demand better working conditions, more hirings and increased public sector investment. One union said it was protesting about the 2019 budget, accusing the government of not doing enough for ordinary workers.

Many commuters appeared bemused by the stoppage, which followed a string of walkouts affecting public transport in Rome.

"Such frequent strikes in which the reasons are not well-explained only damage citizens," said Rome resident, Valerio.

The strike comes a day before a sit-in at Rome City Hall against what organisers say is the degradation of the capital and its public services.

On November 11, residents will be called to vote in a referendum on whether to open up to private firms the city's transport network, which is currently run exclusively by the municipality.

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