Use of temporary agency work agreed in Rome public transport

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In August 1999, Italy's main transport workers' trade unions signed an agreement with the Atac-Cotral group, which is responsible for public transport services in Rome and Lazio. The most innovative aspect of the agreement concerns the use of 400 temporary agency workers for a four-month period starting from September 1999.

The use of temporary agency work is spreading rapidly in Italy. Now, thanks to an agreement signed on 5 August 1999 by the Cgil, Cisl and Uil trade union confederations and public and private employers' organisations operating in the public services sector, temporary agency work can also be used in local public companies providing services useful for the community.

The first agreement which provides for such use of temporary agency work was subsequently signed by the transport workers' federations affiliated to the three main confederations and the Atac-Cotral group, which is responsible for urban public transport in Rome and for regional public transport in Lazio. This company, in order to face up to a number of difficulties, has recently carried out an economic recovery policy which has led to a reduction in the number of workers employed from 20,000 to 15,500 over five years.

With the "Great Jubilee" celebrations of 2000 coming up, Atac-Cotral has signed a contract with the municipality of Rome which provides for an increase of 18% in the volume of public transport traffic provided. In order to deal with this increase and also the numerous recent retirements among staff, the parties have negotiated an agreement which provides for the recruitment of 400 temporary agency workers as bus-drivers for a four-month period.

The new workers will have to be trained by temporary work agencies and will be remunerated at a slightly lower level than the workers already employed, as they will not be able to enjoy some of the benefits applied to senior workers. At the end of the four-month period of work, these bus-drivers will represent a "pool" of skilled workers which the company will be able to use in case of need.

The president of the Atac-Cotral group, Mario di Carlo is very satisfied with the agreement. He underlined the importance of having a flexible workforce, in particular "for a company such as Atac-Cotral which has a fluctuating demand". Stefano Bianchi, secretary general of Cgil's Rome and Lazio organisation, believes that flexibility is a means to reduce management costs for public transport companies and to increase their competitiveness in the market.

The new agreement has allowed the transport trade union organisations in the Rome area to overcome the difficulties that have so far characterised attempts to reorganise public waste-collection companies to meet the requirements of the Jubilee, whereby Cisl and Uil have been in favour of lower "work-entry" pay rates for young recruits, and Cgil opposed to such flexibility (IT9907124N).

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