How Collective Bargaining in Italy Has Changed Since the Crisis

The Italian economic crisis slowly matured in the early 2000s, after the introduction of the Euro, where instead of investing in productivity and quality, Italian companies chose to reduce production costs by providing semi-finished products abroad and introduced the flexibility of the labour market. This led to the disappearance of small and medium-sized companies that produced for third parties and everything that was exposed to international competition on prices was literally left alone. Probably the country had not prepared itself adequately for this challenge and consequently immediately had a decrease in GDP and an increase in the youth unemployment rate. Moreover, no industrial policy necessary for these changes was prepared and most companies had reduced the number of their employees to less than fifteen and trade unions with the total absence of economic institutions had enormous difficulty in thinking about the future having lost the ability to stay one step ahead. In this very dramatic situation, let us not forget the strong political instability that existed in Italy in those years and for which the Italian people are still paying for what they have suffered, remaining in a situation of profound uncertainty and loss. A key element in the response to the crisis has been collective bargaining, which has remained fairly stable in Italy through negotiations on "save jobs" agreements.

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For some years now, an attempt has been made in Italy, including at the legislative level, to encourage and promote a greater spread of corporate collective bargaining, or "second-level" agreements, i.e. those entered into directly by companies with the company's trade union representatives. Currently, collective bargaining is governed by an articulated system of rules under various interconfederal agreements:

  • Protocol of 1993; Agreements of 22.01.2009
  • Agreement of 28.06.2011
  • Memorandum of Understanding of 31.05.2013
  • Confindustria - CGIL CISL UIL Agreement of 10.04.2014

Italy now needs to invest in industry and restart major works to keep pace with Europe and ensure the competitiveness of its businesses.