Unions agree to talk on civil service changes

Trade unions and government bargaining agency ARAN have signed an agreement to negotiate the renewal of unitary workplace union structures in the civil service by March 2012. These combined trade union bodies are to be streamlined as part of reforms being pushed through by Civil Service Minister Renato Brunetta. The parties will also have to modify rules governing trade union representativeness and to define new collective bargaining divisions within the civil service.


Reform and reorganisation of the Italian civil service has been taking place since 2008, overseen by the Civil Service Minister Renato Brunetta. The principal changes concern the system of premiums and incentives, career progression mechanisms, managerial responsibility and the system of collective bargaining (IT0807039I, IT0810019I).

According to the ‘Brunetta law’ (Law no. 150/2009, in Italian) the elections for the renewal of the unitary workplace union structures (RSU) of the civil service should have taken place by 30 November 2010. However, the law also made clear that the elections were to take place only after a preliminary agreement was reached between government representatives and the trade unions over a new system of collective bargaining.

However, agreement on this issue was not reached until 11 April 2011, when it was signed by the State Bargaining Relations Agency ARAN and all the representative trade unions, except the autonomous Confederation of Trade Unions of Civil Servants (RDB CUB). During this year of stalemate and difficult negotiations, there has been a return to trade union unity following the friction caused by the separate agreement concerning productivity-linked pay increases in the civil service signed in February 2011 (IT1102049I) by all relevant unions except the General Confederation of Italian Workers (CGIL).

Contents of agreement

The signatories have agreed to begin negotiations over redefining trade union representativeness and the system of collective bargaining in the civil service. These talks will have to be concluded by 12 December 2011, after which elections for the renewal of trade union representation will be called. The principal points of the agreement are as follows:

Redefinition of collective bargaining system in the civil service

The agreement foresees the conclusion of a national framework agreement which will define the new divisions of collective bargaining, in line with the Brunetta law. This involves:

  • cutting the number of collective bargaining divisions from 10 to four;
  • convergence between the private and public sector bargaining systems regarding structure, the relationship between the various levels, and the length of the agreements (IT0902059I).

The actors will have to define the structure of the four bargaining divisions in order to guarantee the specificity of the civil service and the categories of civil service employees.

Modification of norms regarding trade union representation

The agreement, furthermore, foresees the revision of some provisions included in the framework agreement regarding leave and trade union permits, and the modification of the framework collective agreement concerning the constitution of the RSUs for the personnel of the civil service.

Renewal of workplace union structures

The elections for the new unitary workplace union structures will take place three months after the talks conclude. If there is no agreement on the new structures by 12 December 2011, then the mandate of the current RSUs will be extended and elections for them will take place in early March 2012 in all the divisions of the civil service. Voting will involve approximately three million workers and about 40,000 administrations, including schools.

Social partner reactions

The Extraordinary Commissioner of ARAN, Antonio Naddeo, is satisfied that the agreement has been finally concluded by practically all the trade unions after a long period of difficult bargaining. The National Secretary of the CGIL, Nicola Nicolosi, considers the agreement to be important and he has stated it marks the re-initiation of democracy in the civil service.

Gianni Baratta, General Secretary of the Italian Confederation of Workers’ Unions (CISL) says the agreement is a victory for those, including his organisation, who felt it was of primary importance to redefine some rules before the election of the new RSUs. Giovanni Torluccio, General Secretary of the Union of Italian Workers – Federation of Local Authorities (UIL-FPL), feels it is an important agreement because it has ended the stalemate with ARAN, guaranteeing the right to a rapid vote for the renewal of the RSUs.

Sofia Sanz, Cesos

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