Italy: Latest working life developments Q4 2018
Government talks with employers and trade unions over economic and employment policies, the first industry-wide collective agreement in the large-scale retail sector, and the renewal of the collective agreement in the temporary agency work sector are the main topics of interest in this article. This country update reports on the latest developments in working life in Italy in the fourth quarter of 2018.
Government holds talks with social partners
In December 2018, the government held three different meetings with social partners to hear their positions concerning the government’s economic and employment policies, and the Stability Law (the annual budget law), which was being re-drafted after consultations with the European Commission over the budgetary sustainability of the proposed measures.
On 9 and 11 December 2018, Deputy Prime Ministers Matteo Salvini and Luigi Di Maio met with representatives of the General Confederation of Italian Industry (CONFINDUSTRIA) and other employer organisations respectively. , 
President of the Council of Ministers Giuseppe Conte also met with five trade unions on 10 December, including the Italian General Confederation of Labour (CGIL), the Italian Confederation of Workers’ Trade Unions (CISL) and the Italian Labour Union (UIL).
The government explained its actions and the measures it has taken, while the social partners presented their positions and proposals. According to the trade unions and employer organisations, no specific steps were taken because of the meetings, but there were expectations that the government initiatives would take their positions into consideration. , . In light of this and a perceived lack of positive responses from the government (particularly in relation to measures on citizenship income and adjustments to the pension system), the Secretary General of CISL declared that industrial action could start by the end of January 2019.
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First multi-employer agreement for large retail outlets
On 19 December, the first industry-wide collective agreement for large and modern retail outlets, including large-scale retail chains, was signed after six years of negotiations. The signatories were FederDistribuzione, the largest employer organization for retail and distribution in Italy, and three sectoral trade union federations: the Italian Federation of Workers in the Trade, Tourism and Service Sectors (FILCAMS-CGIL); the Italian Federation of Trade Unions of Workers in the Tourism, Trade Service and Similar Sectors (FISASCAT-CSIL); and the Italian Union of Workers in the Tourism, Trade and Service Sector (UILTuCS-UIL).
FederDistribuzione, which was formerly affiliated to the Italian General Confederation of Companies, Professional Activities and Self-employment (Confcommercio), became an autonomous association in December 2011, with affiliate companies covering over 15,000 retail outlets (including franchising) and employing more than 220,000 workers (data as of 2017). In order to keep pace with wage developments in the retail sector, the companies affiliated with FederDistribuzione granted unilateral wage increases during the negotiations, totalling €61 and falling short of the current Confcommercio agreement by €24.
To close this gap and bring wage rates in line with the overall sector, the new collective agreement envisages a further increase of €24 alongside the previous unilateral pay rises. It also provides for two one-off payments amounting to almost €900 to compensate for the long negotiation process.
The new agreement also establishes a national joint body for welfare, as well as a joint health insurance fund. It also includes a commitment to identify a framework to jointly manage the impact of severe company crises, which could be linked to economic stagnation and the fall in consumption levels, by emphasising the role of industrial relations and the contribution of decentralised collective bargaining.
New agreement signed for temporary agency workers
The renewal of the sectoral agreement for temporary agency workers was signed on 21 December by the employer organisation the National Association of Work Agency (ASSOLAVORO) and three federations of atypical workers: New Identity of Work (NIDIL-CGIL), the Federation of Autonomous, Atypical Administrative Workers (FeLSA-CSIL) and the National Association of Temporary, Autonomous and Atypical Workers (UILtemp).
One of the most important issues was to address the new rules on temporary employment introduced by the so-called Dignity Decree in summer 2018.  The new provisions establish stricter rules on the duration of temporary contracts (a maximum of 24 months) and the number of reiterations (a maximum of four renewals). They cover fixed-term contracts as well as temporary agency work, while allowing collective agreements to define specific regulatory frameworks.
The industry-wide renewal provided the opportunity to establish a regulatory framework that defines an overall maximum duration of 48 months for successive temporary contracts covering different user firms and the option to renew a specific fixed-term contract up to six times, within the legal limit of 24 months. In the case of disadvantaged workers, such as the long-term unemployed, it is possible to renew the fixed-term contract up to eight times.
The agreement recognises the employee’s right to attend specific training and requalification programmes provided by external accredited providers, with a maximum funding of €4,000. It also introduces a one-off income support measure of between €780 and €1,000 for unemployed people formerly employed by temporary work agencies.
The coming months will see the finalisation and implementation of key government measures in relation to the citizens’ income and pension reforms, which are based on the so-called ‘quota 100’. These reforms will allow workers to retire if the sum of their age and years of contribution totals 100.
In terms of collective bargaining, negotiations over the renewal of the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Group’s single-employer collective agreement is entering a crucial phase. The bargaining round was opened in November 2018 with the presentation of two separate platforms by the current signatory trade unions on one side and the Federation of Metallurgical Employees and Workers (FIOM-CGIL) on the other.
Negotiations relating to the renewal of the industry-wide agreement for the banking sector, involving some 300,000 workers, will also kick off early next year.
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