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.
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.
Young workers in Italy fight for their rights at work
On the day of 30 January, at UILTEC National, there was a meeting of young trade unionists from all over Italy. The meeting is part of the "Together at work" initiative promoted by IndustriALL Europe; there has been a discussion about the role of collective bargaining, considered a strategic tool to improve the working conditions of the younger generation. The comparison showed that the Italian youth employment situation is worrying: the unemployment rate is constantly increasing and many young people have fixed-term or part-time employment contracts. Young Italians have no guarantees that protect a dignified lifestyle. This is an obstacle to the realization of their future.
Through the sharing of different experiences emerged that collective bar-gaining plays a central role to guarantee just economic and social conditions, within an Italian regulatory framework unable to give answers for this problem. In the many collective agreements signed by our trade union organisation, there are measures to promote youth employment, with particular attention to the theme of training, important element for the skills of young workers in relation to the changes and transformations of the industrial sector, by the technological and digital revolution of Industry 4.0. Collective bargaining must become a factor of social inclusion for young workers and for new generations. Trade unions must be protagonists and promoters of ideas and proposals for the future.