Unions divided over Bologna's municipal budget

Download article in original language : IT9912136NIT.DOC

In November 1999, negotiations on certain aspects of the municipal budget between the three major Italian trade union confederations - Cgil, Cisl and Uil - and Bologna's municipal administration again ended with union disharmony, following an earlier disagreement over an employment pact in Milan. Cisl signed the agreement, Cgil withdrew from the negotiations and Uil signed only a statement declaring its acceptance of the outcomes of the negotiations

On 8 November 1999, negotiations between the three major Italian trade union confederations and Bologna's municipal administration on certain aspects of the municipal budget ended with only one confederation signing an agreement. Once again, after the controversial employment pact in Milan (IT9908251F), Cgil, Cisl and Uil were divided on the contents of the agreement. Cisl signed the agreement, Cgil withdrew from the negotiations and Uil signed only a statement declaring its acceptance of the outcomes.

The event which led to a further division between the union confederations (IT9909345F) started on 5 November 1999 when Cgil, Cisl and Uil representatives met with Gian Luca Galletti, the councillor responsible for the budget of the city of Bologna, to analyse the budget and the changes put forward by the municipal council. The negotiations led to the following proposals:

  • reduction of the yearly housing tax for rented apartments/houses;
  • reduction of the yearly housing tax for the first house;
  • an increased reduction in kindergarten fees from 10% to 15%, according to family income;
  • a budget increase of ITL 1 billion (EUR 517,000) for social interventions in favour of disadvantaged people (older people, people with disabilities, minors and adults with particular problems);
  • an extra ITL 300 million (EUR 155,000) of funding for the development of home-care services for old people; and
  • the introduction of an additional personal income tax of 0.2%, to contribute towards financing the municipal administration.

It was this last point which was the main reason for the controversy. The Cgil representative pulled out of the talks, leaving at the bargaining table only the representatives of Cisl and Uil who, late in the evening, agreed the proposals. During the three days between the oral agreement and the formal signature of the agreement, many efforts were made to try to repair the breakdown. However, only Cisl fully accepted the agreement's contents, after a long discussion within the local executive board.

Cgil, which was clearly against the agreement, made a counter-proposal, whereby the extra funds - instead of being gathered through an extra income tax - could be recovered from the 1999 budget surplus and by cutting the expenses of consultants and increasing fines for driving offences.

Uil, which was initially in favour of the agreement, changed its position after a long debate and only signed a statement declaring that the proposed budget was satisfactory.

Danilo Barbi, secretary of the local Cgil organisation, claimed that Giorgio Guazzaloca, the mayor of Bologna, "has no reason to ask the citizens for more money" and said that the council wanted "to keep some room for manoeuvre to make some political interventions which would be impossible without the additional tax".

Beppe Cremonesi, provincial secretary of Cisl, said that it had signed the agreement because "concertation means accepting responsibilities." He also asserted that, in exchange for the additional tax, Cisl has obtained guarantees on keeping social, educational and cultural services at the present levels and on protecting the disadvantaged. Mr Cremonesi sees Cgil's attitude as a form of political opposition towards the centre-right council, elected just a few months ago in a traditionally left-oriented city: "since the administration has changed it seems that Cgil has lost its capacity for judgment."

Uil's regional secretary general, Gianfranco Martelli, justified its intermediate position by stating that Uil does not want to go on signing "separate" agreements and claiming that political reasons lie at the root of Cisl and Cgil's decisions. Mr Martelli said: "I have the feeling that Cgil still feels responsible for the failure of the former council ... and that Cisl is interested in becoming the main reference point for the new council."

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