Agreement renewed in information technology sector

In October 2009, all parties in the information and communications technologies sector agreed on the renewal of the nationwide collective agreement for employees of telecommunications companies. The agreement covers 160,000 workers in the sector and provides for pay increments. It also introduces innovations in relation to part-time work, leave provisions, supplementary bargaining and the grading of call-centre workers. The trade unions welcomed the agreement.

About the agreement

The preliminary accord on continuing the nationwide collective agreement for the information and communications technologies (ICT) sector is the second renewal of an important nationwide agreement by all bargaining parties after the agreement of 22 January 2009 on the reform of the Italian collective bargaining system (IT0902059I). The agreement in the ICT sector covers 160,000 workers of telecommunications companies, including companies such as Telecom, Vodafone, Wind, Fastweb and H3G. It was reached jointly on 23 October 2009 by the three trade unions in the sector and the Association of Italian Telecommunications Companies (Assotelecomunicazioni, Asstel) at the headquarters of the Confederation of Italian Industry (Confederazione Generale dell’Industria Italiana, Confindustria) in Rome. Signatories on the trade union side included the Communication Workers’ Union (Sindacato Lavoratori Comunicazione, Slc-Cgil) affiliated to the General Confederation of Italian Workers (Confederazione Generale Italiana del Lavoro, Cgil), the Federation of Entertainment, Information and Telecommunications Workers (Federazione Informazione Spettacolo e Telecomunicazioni, Fistel-Cisl) affiliated to the Italian Confederation of Workers’ Trade Unions (Confederazione Italiana Sindacati Lavoratori, Cisl), and the Italian Communications Workers’ Union (Unione Italiana Lavoratori della Comunicazione, Uilcom-Uil) affiliated to the Union of Italian Workers (Unione Italiana del Lavoro, Uil).

The deal in the ICT sector was preceded by the industry-wide agreement in the food sector (IT0910029I), although the two negotiations followed entirely different dynamics. While in the case of the food industry, the negotiations were based on a single platform shared by the three most representative trade unions, in the case of telecommunications there were three platforms, one for each trade union.

Economic aspects

As regards economic matters, the agreement provides for a pay increase of €129 divided into three instalments. The first instalment of €45 will begin from January 2010, the second of €34 from June 2010, and the third of €50 from June 2011. A lump-sum payment of €585 has been provided for 2009 and is intended to cover the time gap between the expiry of an agreement and its renewal, given that the agreement expired on 31 December 2008. The agreement also introduces an annual pay guarantee of €260 for workers not covered by second-level bargaining, that is, at company and territorial level. As in the case of the agreement for food industry workers, the validity of the economic part of the agreement has been extended from two to three years from 1 January 2009 to 31 December 2011.

Legal aspects

The most innovative legal aspects of the agreement are those that concern the bilateral bodies, although other innovations have been introduced in relation to part-time work, leave provisions, supplementary bargaining and call-centre workers. More specifically, the agreement stipulates the provisions outlined below.

  • The agreement states Asstel’s willingness to set up a sectoral bilateral body for supplementary health insurance. While not replacing the National Health Service (Servizio Sanitario Nazionale), this supplementary health insurance scheme will be funded by companies to an amount of €8 per employee and €2 per single employee. In the meantime, €120 will be set aside annually for every worker without supplementary health coverage.
  • With regard to bilateral bodies, the agreement provides for the creation of a bilateral training agency whose advisers will work for free. The way the advisers will work will be determined at the implementation phase of the agreement.
  • In relation to part-time work, the agreement increases the pay for extra hours from 15% (in the previous agreement) to 20%.
  • As far as paid leave is concerned, the agreement makes the regulations on the 150-hour leave system and examination leave more favourable to workers by introducing an extra paid day for training purposes.
  • With regard to illness, the agreement increases exemption from submission of a medical certificate (consigned on the return to work) from two to three days of illness.
  • Company-level agreements on performance bonuses must be linked to productivity targets, improvement of the company’s competitiveness, greater innovation, organisational efficiency, effectiveness, quality and profitability, as well as the company’s economic results. Trade union representatives as well as company management will be responsible for implementing this provision. Company-level agreements will also be of three-year duration (instead of two).
  • Finally, the agreement devotes an entire section to the job grading of call-centre workers in order to prevent deskilling. In particular, it establishes that call-centre workers without previous work experience can be classified at second level for a period no longer than 12 months, at the end of which they must pass to the third level.

Reactions of the social partners

According to the General Secretary of Slc-Cgil, Emilio Miceli, the agreement is a positive result because it contains neither references to, nor provisions from, the separate agreement on the bargaining system. Consequently, ‘the agreement demonstrates not only the evident shortcomings of the separate agreement but also that it is possible to explore new avenues, as has already happened for food industry workers, to give strength, quality and autonomy to Italy’s bargaining system’.

Of similar opinion, but from another point of view, was the General Secretary of Uilcom-Uil, Bruno Di Cola, who passed positive judgement on the agreement renewal because ‘it gives concrete satisfaction to the expectations of workers at a time of severe economic crisis’. Moreover, continued Mr Di Cola, ‘the agreement is of great political significance because it has been signed by all the union confederations. It proves that it is possible to achieve positive results for workers when trade union concerns prevail over purely ideological and political positions’.

No comment was forthcoming from the employer side.

Cristina Tajani, Fondazione Seveso

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