Industrial relations in the public sector — Italy

  • Observatory: EurWORK
  • Topic:
  • Published on: 10 Diciembre 2008


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This report presents an overview of industrial relations in the central government and public sector in Italy.

1. Structure of the public sector in your country

Please provide:

The definition of the public sector commonly accepted and used in your country. What are the different sectors covered (e.g. central government, local government, health sector, education, others)?

In Italy, there is no single definition of the public sector: In fact, its definitions vary substantially according to the point of view adopted and to the analytical interest. Economists and scholars of public policy, for example, refer to rather broad aggregates, including all activities financed by public money or performed by organisations managed by personnel appointed by central or peripheral government bodies.

Scholars of industrial relations instead tend to recognise in the public administration employment relationships falling under civil law and regulated by collective bargaining (L. Bordogna, Le relazioni sindacali nel settore pubblico, in G. P. Cella, T. Treu, Le nuove relazioni industriali, Bologna: Il Mulino, 1998).

It should be stressed, however, that certain categories of workers in the public administration have an employment relationship based on a unilateral administrative act and therefore regulated by the relative legal order. Specifically, these categories are: Ordinary, administrative and financial magistrates; State barristers-at-law and prosecutors; military and law enforcement personnel; diplomatic and prefectural personnel; university lecturers and researchers. At the end of 2004, ‘non-contractualised’ public sector personnel (i.e. employees whose employment relationships are not defined by civil law and collective bargaining) amounted to 581,397 units, of which 132,792 belonged to the armed forces (air force, port authorities, army, navy, military chaplains); 324,734 to the law enforcement agencies (carabinieri, forestry corps, financial guard, State police, prison officers); 10,765 to the magistracy; 2,532 to the diplomatic and prefectural corps; 110,574 to universities.

The public sector personnel whose employment relationships are instead based on individual contracts regulated by collective bargaining are unequally divided among various ‘collective bargaining divisions’. The procedural collective agreement defining these divisions signed in 2002 by the Agency representing public sector employers (Agenzia per la rappresentanza negoziale delle pubbliche amministrazioni, Aran) and by the sectoral trade unions (Ccnq per la definizione dei comparti di contrattazione per il quadriennio 2002-2005) established 11 bargaining divisions:

  • Tax agencies, which comprise State property, customs, revenue and territorial agencies;
  • autonomous State administrations, which comprise the national fire brigade and the State monopolies;
  • non-economic public bodies, including the Istituto nazionale per il commercio con l’estero (Ice); the Istituto nazionale di previdenza per i dipendenti dell’amministrazione pubblica (Inpdap); the Istituto di previdenza del settore marittimo (Ipsema); orders, professional colleges and relative federations; councils and national collages; the Agenzia per le erogazioni in agricoltura (Agea);
  • higher art and music institutions, comprising fine arts academies, the Accademia nazionale di danza, the Accademia nazionale di arte drammatica; higher institutes of arts and crafts (Isia); music conservatories and institutes;
  • research and experimentation institutes, comprising the Istituto superiore di sanità (Iss); the Istituto superiore per la prevenzione e la sicurezza del lavoro (Ispesl); the Istituto italiano di medicina sociale; the Istituto nazionale di statistica (Istat); the Consiglio per la ricerca e la sperimentazione in agricoltura; the Istituto per le telecomunicazioni e l’elettronica “Giancarlo Vallari” of Livorno; the Consorzio per l’area di ricerca scientifica e tecnologica di Trieste (Area Science Park); the Istituto nazionale di fisica della materia (Infm); the Istituto papirologico “G. Vitelli” di Firenze; the Istituto nazionale di astrofisica (Inaf) and the relative astronomical and astrophysical observatories; the Agenzia per la protezione dell’ambiente e per i servizi tecnici (Apat); the Istituto nazionale per la ricerca scientifica e tecnologica sulla montagna (Inrm); the Istituto nazionale di ottica applicata (Inoa), the Istituto di studi ed analisi economica (Isae); the Istituto nazionale di oceanografia e geofisica sperimentale (Ogs); the Istituto nazionale di geofisica e vulcanologia (Ingv); the Centro per la formazione economica e politica dello sviluppo rurale; the Museo storico della fisica e centro di studi e ricerche “Enrico Fermi”; the Istituto nazionale di documentazione per l’innovazione e la ricerca rieducativa (Indire); the Istituto nazionale per la valutazione del sistema dell’istruzione (Invsi);
  • ministries, a category which also includes personnel in service in the province of Bolzano and employees of the Centro interforze studi applicazioni militari (Cisam);
  • personnel of the Prime Minister’s Office;
  • regional and autonomous local authorities, which comprise the employees of the ordinary statute regions; those of the non-economic public bodies, depending on the ordinary statute regions; of the former independent public housing institutes and the Iacp Marche regional consortium (whose employees are covered by the division’s collective agreements on public-sector employment); the municipalities, the provinces, the mountain communities, the consortia, associations and districts among municipalities, provinces and mountain communities; the public personal services agencies delivering mainly welfare services; the agrarian universities and agencies dependent on local authorities; chambers of commerce, industry, crafts and agriculture and their regional associations of which they are members and whose employees are covered by the division’s public-sector collective agreements; reservoir authorities; the agency for management of the register of municipal and provincial secretariats; local civil service schools (Sspal);
  • national health service, which comprises the personnel of the health and hospital boards of the national health service; animal pathology laboratories; research hospitals; the Ordine Mauriziano of Turin; the Galliera Hospital of Genoa; the former charitable care institutes (Ipab) delivering mainly health services; publicly funded residential care units; regional environmental protection agencies (Arpa); the Agency for the regional health services;
  • school personnel, which comprises State employees in nursery, elementary, secondary and artistic schools, and special education schools;
  • university personnel, which comprises the employees of the administrations of universities, university institutes and university hospitals, except for teaching and research staff; the Istituto universitario di scienze motorie (ex Isef) of Rome.

As regards senior executives in the public administration, the laws reforming the public employment relationship enacted in 1997 and 1998 (see below) extended ‘privatisation’ of the employment relationship to include senior executives, who had previously been excluded. The senior personnel of the public administration are now divided into various ‘areas of collective bargaining’ which do not coincide with the above divisions. Like these divisions, however, the contractual areas for senior executives are defined by procedural agreements between the Aran and the sectoral trade unions in the period preceding renewal of the national-level collective agreements.

The administrations and agencies, whose personnel, executive or otherwise, is ‘contracted’, are mandatorily represented in collective bargaining by the Aran, which undertakes all activities relative to the negotiation and definition of the collective agreements covering personnel in the various divisions of the public sector, including definitive interpretations of contractual clauses and the regulation of trade-union relations in the public administrations (see section 5).

The definition of the central government sector commonly accepted and used in your country. What are the different sectors covered?

Considering the contracted component of public-sector personnel, the central administration of the state is commonly understood as comprising the dependent employees of the ministries, the Prime Minister’s office, and the tax agencies.

If account is also taken of ‘non-contracted personnel’, the state administration could also comprise the ordinary, administrative and financial magistrates, the State barristers-at-law and prosecutors and diplomatic and prefectural personnel.

The following data:

Table 1. Employment and population
Year Central government (*) Public sector (*) (**) Total Employees (all economy) Total Population
Men Women Men Women Men Women Men Women



























(*) The calculation of employment includes workers who, although they do not have open-ended or fixed-term employment relationships, are anyway in the service of the public administrations or agencies. Consequently included are temporary agency workers and ‘socially useful workers’ (socially useful work), while excluded are workers employed on employer-coordinated freelance contracts.

(**) The total does not include voluntary, cadet, or auxiliary personnel of the armed forces or the law enforcement agencies. As of 31 December 2004, this contingent amounted to 84,000 persons (Sources: Istituto nazionale di statistica, Istat; Ragioneria Generale dello Stato).

Table 2. Central government employment (*)
Year Open-ended of whichpart-time (**) Fixed-term (***) of whichpart-time (**)
Men Women Men Women Men Women Men Women



























Please clarify whether central government employment includes: a) school teachers; b) NHS employees; c) armed forces and police; other non-ministerial employees. If data include these groups of employees, please indicate their numbers (or estimated share).

(*) Using the above definition of the State administration, considered in this case are the contracted employees of the ministries, the Prime Minister’s office, and the tax agencies.

(**) Part-time work in the public administration is regulated by legislative decree 662/1996 which encourages its use by making part-time work for a public-sector organisation compatible with self-employment or subordinate employment. According to the national-level collective agreements in the public sector, part-time arrangements, unlike fixed-term employment, can be applied only upon request by personnel already on the permanent staff. Finally, part-time work can be used in the public sector, but the modifications introduced by legislative decree 276/2003 reforming the labour market cannot be applied (source: Ragioneria generale dello Stato).

(***) The figures refer to fixed-term contracts and work/training contracts.

Please indicate whether fixed-term employment and part-time work are typical of certain organisational areas in the central government sector (for instance, top job positions rather than lower-level occupations) or group of workers (such as employees approaching retirement, new recruits, women, technicians, and the like)

According to various surveys on public-sector employment (among the most recent, see G. Della Rocca, R. Sarcina, I rapporti di lavoro flessibile nelle amministrazioni pubbliche, Soveria Mannelli: Rubbettino Editore, 2004), the majority of workers have fixed-term contracts. In particular, medium- or high-level occupations seem to be characterised by a large proportion of fixed-term work contracts. This tendency is confirmed when only the personnel of ministries, tax agencies, and the Prime Minister’s office are considered. In 2004, workers employed by the central State administration on fixed-term contracts amounted to 6,724 (of whom 3,202 were women) out of a total of 259,650. Fixed-term contracts are much more common than the other types of flexible work contract (training/work, temporary-employment agency work, socially useful work, telework). In fact, again in 2004, the total labour force employed on these kinds of work contract in the three divisions analysed amounted to 2,540 units. As regards the distribution of part-time work contracts by professional qualification, in 2004 the majority of personnel employed on part-time contracts in the ministries, tax agencies and the Prime Minister’s office belonged to the intermediate category in the job classification scheme (‘category B’. Source: Ragioneria generale dello Stato, Conto annuale 2004).

More generally, as regards the distribution of part-time employment among the various divisions of the public sector, calculations by the Istituto Tagliacarne on data from the Conto annuale del Ministero dell’economia show that in 2003 part-time personnel on open-ended contracts amounted to more than 106,000 units, equal to 3.32% of the public administration’s total workforce. Much the largest proportion of the personnel employed on this type of contract were women: For every man with a part-time contract there were five women with the same type of contract. Out of the total female workforce employed in the public administration, 5.49% had this kind of contract, while only 1.65% of the male workforce did so. As regards the distribution of part-time contracts among the various divisions, the analysis shows that four-fifths of the total part-time workforce was employed in the divisions of health services, regional administrations, local autonomous administrations, and schools. Instead, on analysing the ratio between the part-time workforce and the total workforce by division, it emerges that part-time workers are mainly employed in the ministries, the regional administrations, and the local autonomous administrations (in order of magnitude).

Please indicate the presence and quantitative relevance of non-standard employment relationships in the central government sector, and especially of temporary agency work and service contracts with individuals or other non-standard contractual relationships that are important in your country.

Various scholars have recently examined the introduction into the public administration of the new forms of ‘atypical’ work and, more generally, flexibility of the employment relationship. Although there are significant differences among the various collective bargaining divisions, the analysis seems to show that ‘atypical’ employment relationships are becoming an important feature of the public administration (IT0501304F).

In all bargaining divisions, still predominant among the forms of ‘atypical work’ are fixed-term employment relationships, although in recent years temporary-employment agency work (especially in local authorities), training/work contracts, and ‘employer-coordinated freelance contracts’ have significantly increased. The annual survey by the Ministry of the Economy (Conto annuale) only considers some forms of flexible employment: fixed-term work contracts, socially useful work, training/work contracts, and temporary-employment agency work. As regards socially useful work, it should be stressed that successive provisions of law have progressively curtailed this contractual form and incorporated it into active labour policies for ‘job stabilisation’. The agreements stipulated for this purpose between the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy and the regional administrations may provide for the hiring of such personnel not only by the public administrations but also by private organisations like social cooperatives. Also as regards the socially useful workers employed in the bargaining divisions of the ministries, the tax agencies and the Prime Minister’s office, it has been decided to gradually transform these form of employment into fixed-term or part-time contracts, or to ‘stabilise’ their employment relationships through the creation of cooperatives.

As said in reply to the previous question, the majority of public-sector workers have fixed-term contracts. In 2003 the socially useful workers employed in the public administration amounted to a total of 46,168, which was 19.4% of all workers without open-ended contracts, while in 2004 there were 40,537 of them. The forms of employment more properly termed ‘atypical’ (training/work contracts, temporary-employment agency work and telework) constituted the minority in total public-sector personnel: In 2003, training/work contracts numbered 3,035, while in 2004 they had been 3,678; there were 6,128 temporary-employment agency work contracts in 2003, while they had been 7,310 in 2004; while teleworkers amounted to only 157 persons in 2003.

In the bargaining divisions of the ministries, the tax agencies and the Prime Minister’s office, socially useful workers fell in numbers from 2,064 in 2003 to 2,050 (of whom 1,307 were women) in 2004; temporary-employment agency workers decreased from 187 in 2003 to 28 (of whom 15 were women) in 2004; and employees on training/work contracts rose from 31 in 2003 to 372 (of whom 203 were women) in 2004.

2. Employment regulation

Public sector vs. private sector.

Do (certain) public sector employees enjoy special status compared with private sector employees?

Do all public sector employees have the same status or are there differences between different groups of employees, as, for instance, between civil servants, clerical employees and workers?

Before the reform process which began mainly in 1983, public sector employees enjoyed special status. The employment relationship was not based on a contract but on a unilateral administrative act of appointment. In its management functions, the public administration exercised authoritative powers, not ‘privatistic’ ones. Pay levels were largely immutable, and the employee’s privileges - principally that of job stability - arose, not from exchange, but from the need to guarantee the conditions necessary for the efficient exercise of the public functions (F. Carinci, R. De Luca Tamajo, P. Tosi, T. Treu, Diritto del lavoro, Torino: Utet, 2003).

The legal difference between public and private subordinate employment became less clear cut at the end of the 1960s, which was when the first provisions were introduced to bring employment conditions in the public sector somewhat closer to those in the private sector. An important first step in this direction was the framework law 93/1983 which flanked the regulations on certain aspects of work (eg the organisation of offices; activation and termination of employment; criteria for determining job classification levels; criteria for personnel training; employee accountability) with bargaining on other aspects: For example, pay scales, working time and overtime and personnel mobility (L. Bordogna, Le relazioni sindacali nel settore pubblico, in G. P. Cella, T. Treu , Le nuove relazioni industriali, Bologna: Il Mulino, 1998).

In the 1990s, the public sector was further reformed in regard to the structure, actors, procedures and contents of collective bargaining, and organisational and executive functions, with further repercussions on the status of public sector employees, their employment relationships, and personnel policies. The main changes were introduced by legislative decree 29/1993, and subsequently by legislative decrees 396/1997, 80/1998 and 387/1998 (IT9711217F; IT9709311F; IT9802320F). The norms established by these various decrees were collected into a consolidated text, legislative decree 165/2001, entitled General Rules on Public Sector Employment (Norme generali sull’ordinamento del lavoro alle dipendenze delle amministrazioni pubbliche).

In general, the purpose of this complex reform process was to introduce the collective bargaining method into the public administration as well, thereby bringing its employment conditions closer to those obtaining in the private sector. This led to the gradual elimination of the differences in treatment which in the past had produced the distinctive status of the public sector employee.

As said in the reply to the previous question, excluded from the ‘privatisation’ of the employment relationship in the public sector were certain employee categories (so-called ‘non-contractualised personnel’) who therefore had a formally different status.

As regards ‘contractualised’ personnel, despite the reduction of the legal differences between the employment relationship in the public and private sectors, a number of significant differences still persist relative, for example, to hiring procedures, termination of employment and the management of redundant personnel. For example, hiring in the public sector - with some rare exceptions, mainly to do with the possibility of using forms of flexible work for certain roles and in specific divisions - are still regulated by public law and subject to competitive examination, with the consequent jurisdiction of the administrative courts (for details see the following points).

If public sector employees enjoy special status(es), please specify:

The distinctive features of (each) public sector employment status, highlighting the main differences with the status of private sector employees (and, if relevant, among the various public sector statuses). In particular, indicate whether such differences involve the rights: i) of association; ii) to bargaining collectively; iii) to strike.

The core disposition of the reform of the public sector employment relationship - as set out in articles 2 and 5 of legislative decree 165/2001 - is that the employment relationship is based on an individual contract. The reform also establishes the application of the civil code and the laws regulating work in private enterprises. Consequently, ‘contractualised’ public sector employees enjoy rights of association, collective bargaining, and the right to strike.

The ‘privatisation’ of public sector employment by bringing it under the civil code has therefore concerned all personnel, managerial and otherwise, with the exception of certain categories: Magistrates, State barristers-at-law, army and police personnel, diplomatic and prefectural personnel, university teaching and research staff.

A contractually regulated individual relationship is established for all employees, apart from those belonging to the just-mentioned categories. Public sector employment is no longer established by an administrative provision (the act of appointment). Public sector appointment acts are therefore now regulated by private law, with the consequence that they no longer have the authoritativeness and enforceability typical of administrative provisions. Hence, disputes concerning the employment relationships of public sector workers are the competence of the ordinary courts rather than of the administrative ones (M. De Feo, Evoluzione normativa in materia di pubblico impiego, paper, 2002).

The requirements that must be fulfilled to gain (each) such special status(es): i) pass a public examination; ii) achieve a certain tenure in the position; c) in terms of nationality; d) other specific conditions.

Hiring on open-ended contracts in the public administration are made on the basis of competitive examinations whose qualitative and quantitative criteria are defined by law: Article 35 (sub-section 3) of legislative decree 165/2001 states the principles regulating recruitment procedures in the civil service. Citizens of the member countries of the European Union may be hired for posts in the civil service which do not involve the direct or indirect exercise of public powers; that is to say, posts which do not directly or indirectly concern protection of the national interest.

Moreover, following the reform laws of 1997 and 1998, for certain posts the public authorities, may use the flexible forms of employment envisaged by the civil code and the laws on subordinate employment in firms. National-level collective agreements regulate fixed-term contracts, training/work contracts and other training arrangements, and the supply of temporary labour (art. 36, legislative decree 165/2001).

As regards senior managers, access to the grade of tenured executive in the civil service and in the non-economic bodies is solely by competitive examination. Appointment to executive posts and transfers among them are regulated in view of the characteristics of the programme to be undertaken, the professional aptitudes and abilities of the executive concerned, and also in relation to past performance. Recent legislation (law 145/2002), however, seems to be oriented towards the ‘de-privatisation’ of the employment relationships of senior civil service managers (F. Carinci, Una riforma conclusa. Fra norma scritta e prassi applicativa, in F. Carinci, L. Zoppoli, Il lavoro nelle pubbliche amministrazioni, Torino: Utet, 2004). In fact, the legislation eliminates the single role (‘ruolo unico’), increases discretionality in the selection and replacement of executives by the political authorities, and more closely synchronises the duration of commissions and appointments. Moreover, appointments to senior executive posts may be confirmed, revoked, modified or renewed within 90 days by a government vote of confidence.

Please fill in the following table:

Table 3. Status of central government employees
Year Total ‘contractualised’ employees in the central state administration (divisions: ministries, tax agencies, and Prime Minister’s office) Senior executives (general managers and similar) Personnel with managerial status (executives and similar) Non-executive personnel (middle-ranking officials, office workers and routine personnel)
Men Women Men Women Men Women
























Please indicate the elements of the employment relationship of central government employees which are regulated by:

Specific legislation.

Collective bargaining.

In your answer, please refer specifically to elements such as recruitment procedures, pay (see also below), working time, work organisation, job security and employment protections, social security.

Please, briefly illustrate whether and how reform of employment regulation in the central government sector since the 1990s has affected:

The status of workers.

The balance between legislation and collective bargaining in regulating the various dimensions of the employment relationships.

Other relevant industrial relations dimensions, such as representation, conflict and its regulation.

Please, briefly illustrate whether and how reorganisation and restructuring in the central government sector since the 1990s, for instance through the establishment of special agencies or the separation of specific bodies and offices, has affected:

The status of significant groups of workers.

The balance between legislation and collective bargaining in regulating the various dimensions of the employment relationships.

Other relevant industrial relations dimensions, such as representation, conflict and its regulation.

In the central state administration, as in the rest of the civil service, the above-mentioned reforms have changed many aspects of the employment relationship, so that it now more closely resembles that in the private sector.

The main purpose of bringing public-sector employment closer to that in the private sector has been to rationalise and reduce the costs of the public sector, and to improve the efficiency and quality of services. As already mentioned, the most important changes have been the following:

  • The so-called ‘contractualisation’ of the public-sector employment relationship with the application of a bargaining system with a national and local level, in accordance with the model defined by the agreement of 23 July 1993. Compared with the private sector, however, the negotiating procedures in the public sector are more closely defined, mainly to enable scrutiny of financial compatibility by the Court of Auditors and of agreement contents by the government (see sections 5 and 6);
  • definition of the negotiating actors: on the one hand, the agency representing public sector employers (Aran), an independent and permanent agency acting on the government’s instructions; on the other hand, the trade union confederations and organisations admitted to the negotiations according to specific representativeness criteria (see sections 4 and 6);
  • creation of the unitary workplace union structures (Rsu) - formed by elections – and the introduction of supplementary bargaining;
  • abolition of the exclusive jurisdiction of the administrative courts and the adjudication of disputes by the ordinary courts, thus bringing the public employment relationship under the civil code and the laws regulating private employment relationships;
  • the distinction between political and administrative responsibility. Attempts have been made to introduce management by objectives (ie measured by standards of efficacy, efficiency and economicity) in the public administration as well.

The endeavour to introduce the distinction mentioned in the last point has introduced, for ‘contractualised’ public sector personnel, the ‘single role’ of senior civil servants. The single role is divided into two bands; a distinction which principally has effects on pay (art. 23, legislative decree 165/2001). The employment relationship, including its pay part, of senior executives is determined by collective bargaining. In fact, executives form an area separate from the bargaining divisions relative to other public-sector employees. As said earlier, recent legislation (law 145/2002) has further modified definition of the single role of executive personnel, increasing public control over the administrative scope and responsibilities of senior civil servants.

Although regulation of employment relationships in the public and private sectors is now substantially similar, recent legislation has concerned certain aspects deemed of particular importance:

  • Part-time work. In order to reduce the public administration’s labour costs, Law 662/1996 on measures to rationalise public spending provides incentives for transition to part-time work on request by the employee, so that - provided that the other job does not amount to more than 50% of the normal job - part-time arrangements are compatible with self-employed or subordinate work (E. Ghera, Diritto del lavoro: il rapporto di lavoro, Bari: Cacucci, 2000). The law also requires the Council of Ministers to establish, within the first semester of every year, the percentage of workers to be hired annually on part-time contracts or on other types of flexible work contract;
  • disciplinary responsibility, which is defined in analogous fashion to the disciplinary sanctioning regulated by article 7 of the Workers’ Statute. However, plea bargaining is possible for public sector workers, so that, by mutual consent, a reduced penalty is inflicted on the worker, who renounces his/her right of appeal;
  • weekly working hours, which (with the exception of public services delivered on a continuous basis and educational institutions) must be divided among five days a week, in accordance with the schedule established by collective bargaining;
  • staff surpluses in the public sector. Applied in this case are provisions different from the private-law ones covering collective dismissals, which mainly consist in the Wages Guarantee Fund, the ‘mobility procedures’, the mobility allowance, and the availability list. According to the legislative decree 80/1998, once the information procedures has concluded, the law provides for the surplus personnel to be made ‘available’ (messa in disponibilità) for redeployment. The employment relationship is suspended, with payment of an allowance by the employer according to a scheme similar to the Wages Guarantee Fund in the private sector. The benefit (80% of the basic wage) received by the workers concerned is paid by the administration until they have been transferred to another administration (with the worker’s consent) or until the employment relationship is definitively terminated.

3. Pay levels and determination

Please indicate:

The presence and relevance of collective bargaining on pay in the central government sector.

According to article 40 of decree law 165/2001, all matters concerning the employment relationship and labour relations are subject to collective bargaining. As in the private sector, collective bargaining determines the duration of national-level collective and supplementary agreements, the bargaining system and relations among its various levels. Moreover, the public administrations may activate autonomous levels of supplementary collective bargaining within the budgetary constraints of the annual and multi-year plans of each administration.

Consequently, national-level collective bargaining establishes the pay levels for ‘contractualised’ public sector employees, including those working for the central State administration. Decentralised collective bargaining may also establish pay increments related to (individual and collective) productivity.

The number and scope of bargaining units on pay within the central government sector.

In the three divisions of the central State administration, the centrally-bargained pay component is much larger than the variable part of the salary determined by decentralised bargaining and usually linked to collective productivity or individual performance.

Analysis by the Aran on the last two agreement renewals (1998-2001; 2002-2005) has found that pay rises bargained at national level have been largely in line with forecast inflation rates, as established by the Agreement of 23 July 1993. Differences between the real and forecast rates have been largely recouped when the economic parts of collective agreements have been renewed. At the same time, however, both the Aran (Punto ccnl: stato di avanzamento dell’iter di rinnovo dei contratti collettivi nazionali di lavoro e tempistica della contrattazione) and Istat report a distinctive feature of recent bargaining rounds in the public administration: The considerable delay in agreement renewals. These delays make retroactive definition of both legal and economic aspects necessary. This causes large accumulations of arrears, with the consequent difficulty of planning and monitoring expenditure on public sector wages (Istat, La contrattazione di primo livello nel settore pubblico: tendenze recenti, 2004).

Do minimum wage levels vary across the different bargaining units within the central government sector? Are there common minimum wage levels in the whole public sector?

In Italy, there are no minimum wage levels established by law. Article 36 of the Italian Constitution gives workers entitlement to ‘fair pay’, which is identified by the courts with reference to the collective agreement, even if the worker or employer concerned are not enrolled with the interest organisations which have stipulated that agreement. Thus the collective employment contract has universal applicability.

In the public administration, too, basic and supplementary wages are defined by collective agreements. The civil service guarantees its ‘contractualised’ employees equality of contractual treatment, or at any rate treatment not inferior to that foreseen by collective agreements (article 45, legislative decree 165/2001).

Within the system monitoring labour-market trends, the National Institute of Statistics (Istat) produces monthly pay level indicators calculated according to the schedules established by the national collective agreements. The indices of contractual pay levels provide benchmarks for assessment of the pay increments to which workers are entitled under national agreements and the law. Pay is expressed on a monthly basis by dividing the total annual wage by twelve, and the contractual pay indices refer to full-time employment relationships. The indices are constructed by setting each month’s pay in ratio to the period taken as the benchmark (which since 2000 has been December 2000=100). According to the Istat surveys, the contractual pay of employees on open-ended contracts varies according to whether they work for a ministry, the Prime Minister’s office or one of the tax agencies. In 2004, a ministry employee received an average salary of 109.2; the monthly pay of an employee in the Prime Minister’s office was 107.1; while an employee in a tax agency received 105.7 (Istat, Annuario statistico 2005).

Is there a single job classification system for the whole central government sector?

Divisional agreement renewals in the four-year period 1998-2001 made various changes to the job classification system, which is now structured into a small number of grades (three or four depending on the division). Each grade comprises a certain number of ‘pay steps’ which employees ascend as they acquire greater experience, more knowledge, and/or demonstrate greater ability in their jobs. Various scholars (eg M. Ricciardi, La contrattazione collettiva nelle pubbliche amministrazioni. Luci, ombre e pregiudizi, Lavoro e diritto, n. 3-4, 2004) have stressed that this system differs across the bargaining divisions and they have more generally emphasised the difficulties encountered in applying this job classification system more closely based on work performance by the individual employee. As regards the ministries, the job classification system is mainly established at national level and movement among grades is defined by objective criteria (seniority and educational qualification), which evidences a certain resistance to attempts to make the job classification system more flexible and more linked to the productivity.

Table 4. Central government and private sector: wage levels and increases since 2000 (average)
Year Public sector (*) Private sector (**)
Level (***) Annual increase % (***) Level (***) Annual increase % (***)






























(*) ‘Contractualised’ non-managerial personnel with open-ended contracts. Average pay includes all remuneration accruing to dependent personnel: Salary, seniority increments, fixed and supplementary allowances, thirteenth month bonus, cost-of-living allowance, overtime pay, productivity bonuses. Source: Aran, Rapporto trimestrale sulle retribuzioni dei pubblici dipendenti, agosto 2006.

(***) Private sector: weighted average of agriculture, industry and marketable services. Source: Aran, Rapporto trimestrale sulle retribuzioni dei pubblici dipendenti, agosto 2006.

(***) Indices, December 2000=100 (Source: Istat, I numeri indice delle retribuzioni contrattuali: le nuove serie in base dicembre 2000=100, aprile 2003).Indices in absolute values and by month, percentage variations on previous year.

The presence and relevance of variable performance-related pay in the central government sector. Please indicate whether variable pay is particularly relevant in certain bargaining units or organisational areas (for instance, top job positions, officers, or other occupations).

The provisions of legislative decree 396/1997 have fostered the greater diffusion of supplementary collective bargaining together with a wider range of matters negotiated. From a legislative point of view, the regulations on public-sector decentralised bargaining are set out in article 40 of legislative decree 165/2001, which states that second-level bargaining must be linked with sectoral bargaining and may not contain dispositions incompatible with those of the national-level collective agreement, lest these be null.

Since 1998, in the public administration as a whole, the main issues negotiated at decentralised level are performance-related pay and job classifications (L. Bordogna, Contrattazione integrativa e gestione del personale nelle pubbliche amministrazioni, Milano: Franco Angeli, 2002, IT0212209F). In this regard, recent years have seen a decrease in the centralised part of ancillary pay and increased selectivity in use of the incentives that differentiate, albeit to a minor extent, among pay levels, also at individual level. A recent survey by the National Council for Economic Affairs and Labour (Consiglio nazionale dell’economia e del lavoro, Cnel) has shown a balanced distribution among the various uses foreseen (productivity bonuses, advancements and allowances) for the ancillary fund established by supplementary agreements in the public sector. The survey also reported the more frequent use made of merit-base assessment criteria, especially in local authorities.

Are there any form of “benchmarking” of wage dynamics in the central government sector with other public sectors or with the private sector? If yes, are industrial relations actors involved in such benchmarking activity?

The Aran conducts a quarterly sample-based survey on the pay of public-sector employees. The report analyses and compares data collected by Istat, the State Paymaster’s Office (Ragioneria generale dello Stato) and the Aran itself. The survey tracks pay trends by bargaining division and compares them with those in the private sector (defined as comprising agriculture, industry and marketable services). The quarterly reports are sent to the government, to the ‘sector committees’ and relevant commissions in order to provide information on the pay treatment of public sector workers.

4. Union Presence and density

Please provide information on:

Trade unions which are present in the various bargaining units of the central government sector, their number, affiliation, representational domain, membership, and the sectoral union density (data by gender). Please fill in the following table:

Table 5. Trade unions (*)
Union Affiliation Representational domain (group of workers represented) Bargaining units where the trade union is present (**) Membership (***) RSU election results 2001 (***)
Check-offs % Votes a.v. %
Tax Agencies
the Federation of Public and Service Workers (Federazione lavoratori pubblici e dei servizi, Fps-Cisl)

the Italian Confederation of Workers’ Unions (Confederazione italiana sindacati lavoratori, Cisl)


Ministries; Tax Agencies; Prime Minister’s Office; Non-economic public bodies; Regions-autonomous local administrations; Health.





the Public Service Union (Funzione pubblica, Fp-Cgil)

the General Confederation of Italian Workers (Confederazione generale italiana del lavoro, Cgil)


Ministries; Tax Agencies; Prime Minister’s Office; Autonomous state entities and administrations; non-economic public bodies; Regions-autonomous local administrations; Health.





National Autonomous Labour Unions (Unione nazionale sindacati autonomi, Unsa-Confsal)

the General Confederation of Autonomous Labour Unions (Confederazione generale dei sindacati autonomi dei lavoratori, Confsal)


Ministries, Tax Agencies, Prime Minister’s Office.





the Public Administration Workers' Union (Pubblica amministrazione, Pa-Uil)

the Union of Italian Workers (Unione italiana del Lavoro, Uil)


Ministries; Tax Agencies; Prime Minister’s Office; Autonomous state entities and administrations; Non-economic public bodies; Research institutes; Universities.





Public Administration and Services Workers Federation (Federazione lavoratori pubblici e pubbliche funzioni, Flp-Usae)

European Autonomous Trade Unions (Unione sindacati autonomi europei, Usae)


Ministries; Tax Agencies; Prime Minister’s Office.





Rappresentanze sindacali di base-Pubblico impiego (Rdb Pi)

Rappresentanze sindacali di base - Confederazione unitaria di base (Rdb Cub)


Ministries; Tax Agencies; Prime Minister’s Office; Autonomous State entities and administrations; Non-economic public bodies.





Ministries Workers Trade Union Federation (Federazione sindacale comparto ministeri, Cisal-Intesa)

Confederation of Autonomous Workers’ Unions (Confederazione italiana sindacati autonomi lavoratori, Cisal)


Ministries; Tax Agencies; Prime Minister’s Office;





Union Affiliation Membership RSU election results 2001
Check-offs % Votes a.v. %
Federazione lavoratori pubblici e dei servizi (Fps-Cisl)

Confederazione italiana sindacati lavoratori (Cisl)





Funzione pubblica-Cgil (Fp-Cgil)

Confederazione generale italiana del Lavoro (Cgil)





Unione nazionale sindacati autonomi (Unsa-Confsal)

Confederazione generale dei sindacati autonomi dei lavoratori (Confsal)





Pubblica amministrazione-Uil (Pa-Uil)

Unione italiana del Lavoro (Uil)





Federazione lavoratori pubblici e pubbliche funzioni (Flp)

Unione generale del lavoro (Ugl)





Rappresentanze sindacali di base-Pubblico impiego (Rdb Pi)

Rappresentanze sindacali di base - Confederazione unitaria di base (Rdb Cub)





Federazione sindacale comparto ministeri (Cisal-Intesa)

Confederazione italiana sindacati autonomi lavoratori (Cisal)





Prime Minister’s office
Union Affiliation Membership RSU election results 2001
Check-offs % Votes a.v. %
Federazione lavoratori pubblici e dei servizi (Fps-Cisl)

Confederazione italiana sindacati lavoratori (Cisl)





Funzione pubblica-Cgil (Fp-Cgil)

Confederazione generale italiana del Lavoro (Cgil)





Unione nazionale sindacati autonomi (Unsa-Confsal)

Confederazione generale dei sindacati autonomi dei lavoratori (Confsal)





Pubblica amministrazione-Uil (Pa-Uil)

Unione italiana del Lavoro (Uil)





Federazione lavoratori pubblici e pubbliche funzioni (Flp)

Unione generale del lavoro (Ugl)





Rappresentanze sindacali di base-Pubblico impiego (Rdb Pi)

Rappresentanze sindacali di base - Confederazione unitaria di base (Rdb Cub)





Federazione sindacale comparto Ministries (Cisal-Intesa)

Confederazione italiana sindacati autonomi lavoratori (Cisal)





(*) According to article 43 of legislative decree 165/2001, the Aran admits to national-level collective bargaining those trade union organisations with 5% representativeness in their branch or area. Representativeness is calculated as the average of a union’s membership figure (check-offs) its electoral results (in the Rsu elections). The figures in Table 5 have been published by the Aran and have been used to ascertain trade union representativeness in 2002-2003. The table reports the figures on the trade unions which, after the survey of 18 April 2002, were deemed representative and were therefore admitted to national-level collective bargaining for the four-year bargaining period 2002-2005 on the normative part of agreements and for the 2002-2003 period for renewal of the economic part.

(**) This column contains the bargaining divisions in which specific trade union organisations are deemed representative in accordance with article 43 of the legislative decree 165/2001.

(***) The number of check-offs and the Rsu election results in the table refer exclusively to the bargaining divisions which make up the central State administration: The tax agencies, the ministries, and the Prime Minister’s office.

Table 6. Rsu elections – Year 2001
Central state administration No. Rsu elected Unionisation rate (*) Election turnout rate Turnout
Males % Females %
Tax agencies
















Prime Minister’s office








(*) The unionisation rate is calculated by dividing the number of check-offs with the number of employees. The number of check-offs includes cases in which the employee issues a check-off for several unions and excludes cases in which the employee has issued a check-off for several unions belonging to the same trade-union federation.

Please provide information on the diffusion within the central government sector of craft unions, professional unions, or unions which are not affiliated to peak associations.

Are there any formal procedures or rules which aim to assess the representativeness of the various unions? If yes, please, briefly illustrate the content of such procedures or rules. Do these procedures or rules affect the access of the various unions to trade union prerogatives or to the bargaining table? If yes, please specify such effects and any possible limitations.

As in many other countries of the European Union, in Italy the representation of public sector workers has always been much denser than in the private sector. The Italian public sector is also characterised by marked organisational fragmentation.

The issue of trade union representativeness has long been subject to discussion by the various public-sector actors, both between employers and unions and among the unions themselves.

The problem has been regulated by article 43 of legislative decree 165/2001, according to which the Aran admits to national-level collective bargaining those trade union organisations with 5% representativeness in their ‘collective bargaining division’ or ‘collective bargaining area’, considering for this purpose the average between the union’s membership figure and its electoral results. A union’s membership figure is identified by its percentage of check-offs for the payment of union contributions out of the total number issued in the respective division or area. The electoral result is the percentage of votes obtained in the elections for the public sector unitary workplace union structures (sub-section 1, art. 43, leg. decree 165/2001).

Moreover, the law states that the trade union confederations admitted to national-level collective bargaining for the relative division or area are the confederations to which belong the trade unions admitted to collective bargaining according to the above criteria. The Aran signs collective agreements upon verifying, on the basis of the representativeness ascertained for admission to the negotiations, that the unions undesigning the draft agreement represent at least a 51% average between membership and electoral result in the collective bargaining division or area, or at least 60% of the electoral result in that division or area.

As regards collective bargaining on procedural agreements - ie the collective agreements that define or modify the divisions or areas regulating matters concerning all public administrations - the Aran admits to collective bargaining those trade union confederations to which, in at least two divisions or areas, ‘representative’ trade union organisations are affiliated.

On the basis of these rules, in 2002-2003 the following trade union confederations were admitted to national-level negotiations on procedural collective agreements:

  • the General Confederation of Italian Workers (Confederazione generale italiana del lavoro, Cgil);
  • the Italian Confederation of Workers’ Unions (Confederazione italiana sindacati lavoratori, Cisl);
  • the Union of Italian Workers (Unione italiana del Lavoro, Uil);
  • the General Union of Work (Unione generale del lavoro, Ugl);
  • Confederation of Autonomous Workers’ Unions (Confederazione italiana sindacati autonomi lavoratori, Cisal);
  • the General Confederation of Autonomous Labour Unions (Confederazione generale dei sindacati autonomi dei lavoratori, Confsal);
  • Rappresentanze sindacali di base-Confederazione unitaria di base (Rdb-Cub);
  • European Autonomous Trade Unions (Unione sindacati autonomi europei, Usae).

As regards the collective bargaining divisions of the ministries, tax agencies, and the Prime Minister’s office, the following trade unions were admitted to collective bargaining for renewal of the 2002-2005 agreement:

  • Federazione lavoratori pubblici e dei servizi (Fps-Cisl);
  • Funzione pubblica-Cgil (Fp-Cgil);
  • Pubblica amministrazione-Uil (Pa-Uil);
  • Federazione lavoratori pubblici e pubbliche funzioni (Flp-Usae);
  • Unione nazionale sindacati autonomi (Unsa-Confsal);
  • Rappresentanze sindacali di base pubblico impiego (Rdb Pi – Rdb Cub);
  • Federazione sindacale comparto ministeri (Cisal Intesa).

As said, one of the criteria used to calculate the representativeness of a public sector trade union is the electoral result, defined as the percentage of votes obtained in the Rsu elections. The Rsus were instituted in the public administration by the framework national-level agreement of 7 August 1997. A similar agreement has never been stipulated for the senior management bargaining areas.

The Rsu have three-year duration (the first elections were held in 1998), they are not renewable, and together with the representative trade unions they are admitted to national-level bargaining and sign the national-level collective agreement. They are one of the actors necessary for composition of the union delegation in second-level collective bargaining in individual administrations. Unlike in the private sector, the public-sector Rsus are entirely elected.

5. Employer representation

Please provide information on:

Who does represent the central government at the bargaining table? Are there specific independent bodies, such as agencies, or negotiations are carried out under the responsibility of political actors, such as ministers?

If negotiations are carried out by specific independent bodies, please indicate how they are organised. In particular, specify whether there are guidelines or other directives set by political actors and how the tasks of the independent bodies are carried out. For instance, negotiations have to follow specific stages?

The general revision of the relationship between the government and the public administration introduced by the reform law of 1993 significantly concerned the employers’ side as well, as regards both the powers of public sector management and employer representation in collective bargaining. The main innovation introduced by the 1993 reform law was the creation of a specific body representing public administration employers in negotiating activities (Aran).

The Aran undertakes all national-level activities relative to trade union relations and the negotiation of collective agreements, and it assists the public administrations in ensuring the uniform application of collective agreements. The public administrations may use the Aran’s assistance in the case of supplementary collective bargaining. On the basis of special accords, such assistance may also be given collectively to administrations of the same type or located in the same geographical area. The Aran also undertakes the monitoring, documentation and analysis necessary for the exercise of collective bargaining (article 46, leg. decree 165/2001, sub-sections 1, 2, 3, 4).

The Aran is directed by a steering committee consisting of five members appointed by prime ministerial decree, one of them being nominated by the Conference of the Presidents of the Regions (Conferenza dei presidenti delle regioni) and the autonomous Provinces of Trento and Bolzano, and another by the National Association of Italian Municipalities (Associazione nazionale dei comuni d’Italia, Anci) and the Union of Italian Provinces (Unione delle province d’Italia, Upi).

The stipulation of a collective agreement moves through three main stages: Preparation of the guideline document (‘atto di indirizzo’); negotiation in the strict sense; and finally approval (by the government and the sector committees) and certification (by the Court of Audit), which then stipulate the definitive agreement. The public administrations give guidance to the Aran and the other powers relative to the procedures of national-level collective bargaining through their associative or representative bodies, which create sector committees for this purpose (article 41, sub-section 1, leg. decree 165/2001). Acting as the sector committee for the State administrations, agencies and autonomous entities is the Prime Minister via the Minister for Reform and Innovation in the Public Sector jointly with the Minister of the Treasury, Budget and Economic Planning and, for the educational system, jointly with the Minister of Education. In the case of the other public administrations, a sector committee is created for each bargaining division.

The sector committees (comitati di settore) draw up the guideline documents before agreement renewals and may express opinions as to the compatibility of the latter with the government’s economic and financial policy. During negotiations on renewal of collective agreements, the Aran is obliged to keep the sector committees and the government constantly informed on the progress of the negotiations and it must pronounce in favour of the draft agreement and relative costs before the definitive agreement is signed.

If negotiations are carried under the direct responsibility of political actors, please indicate how they are organised. For instance, do negotiations take place under the responsibility of a single ministry, for instance the Finance Ministry, or are they carried out by a delegation or in a different way?

The Aran is the mandatory negotiator for all the public administrations with the exception of the special statute regions (Sicily, Sardinia Trentino Alto Adige, Friuli Venezia Giulia and Valle d’Aosta) and the autonomous provinces of Trento and Bolzano, although these may use its assistance and representation. The main task of the government is to establish the total financial resources available for every agreement renewal. These constraints are normally set by the financial, economic and budgetary planning documents approved by Parliament. Moreover, as said in reply to the previous question, the public administrations may orient the Aran’s negotiating activity via the sector committees.

Do collective agreements in the central government sector have to pass an ex-post “validation” procedure, for instance to certify their compliance with budget constraints? If present, please briefly illustrate such procedure and the consequences of failure to pass it.

Once a draft agreement has been reached with the unions, the Aran is obliged to submit it to the sector committees and to the government. On approval by the latter, the agency must forward quantification of the agreement’s costs to the Court of Audit so that its compatibility with the planning and budgetary instruments can be certified.

If certification is issued, the agreement is definitively signed and comes into effect at the moment of subscription. If instead certification is refused, on advisement by the sector committees or the Prime Minister, the Aran takes the action necessary to adjust the quantification of the agreement’s costs or, if it deems this not possible, re-opens the negotiations. In any event, the certification procedure must conclude within 40 days following the draft agreement, whereafter the president of the Aran is mandated to definitively sign the collective agreement unless it is necessary to re-open the negotiations (article 47, leg. decree 165/2001).

6. Collective bargaining and conflict in central government

Please provide information on:

The structure of collective bargaining and, in particular, the number and scope of bargaining units, both at central (national) and decentralised (workplace and territorial) levels.

Relations between the social partners in the public sector and methods to regulate the employment relationship have undergone major changes, with transition from unilateral regulation to recognition of collective bargaining. The reform processes has been introduced by the 1983 framework law on public sector employment (as said, this law extended the bargaining method to many aspects concerning employment conditions, but it has maintained the regulations on unilateral management of the employment relationship), and it continued with the definitive introduction of collective bargaining with the reform laws of 1993 and 1997-1998.

The bargaining structure introduced by legislative decree 29/1993, and modified by legislation in 1997-1998, is today defined by article 40 of legislative decree 165/2001. The law envisages two bargaining levels:

  • The national one, which covers both the collective bargaining divisions and autonomous areas, and which may establish draft or framework/procedural agreements ensuring the uniform regulation of certain matters among all or some divisions;
  • the decentralised level which concerns individual administrations or their local branches. Supplementary collective bargaining is undertaken on matters and within the limits established by the national-level collective agreements between the actors and with the procedures established by the latter (sub.section 3, article 3, leg. decree 165/2001).

Again as regards decentralised collective bargaining, according to the organisational structure of the administration concerned, it may conclude with a supplementary collective agreement. The law stipulates that bargaining at this level must concern issues defined by the national-level collective agreements within the budgetary constraints set at the higher level. At decentralised level, the matters most frequently subject to bargaining are: Collective and individual productivity incentives; the criteria for granting pay increments; internal and external mobility procedures; guidelines for training schemes.

Since 1993 there has been much debate on the relationship between the two bargaining levels (national and decentralised). In fact, the first phase of public-sector reform (1992-1993), in relation to harmonising the bargaining regulations to curb public spending, imposed closer constraints on the decentralised bargaining level. The second phase of reform (1997-1998) instead sought to alter certain aspects of the bargaining structure which made it markedly centralised (F. Carinci, L. Zoppoli, Il lavoro nelle pubbliche amministrazioni, Turin: Utet, 2004).

In connection with the current situation of Italy’s public accounts – which, in many respects, are in a economic difficult state - most recent legislation (in particular the 2002 budget law) has explicitly sought to contain and to control public spending, once again privileging centralisation of the bargaining structure. The law states, in fact, that clauses in supplementary agreements which entail costs not compatible with budget constraints must be struck out. Moreover, the same law has introduced pre-determination of spending for the supplementary agreements of the non-State administrations, thereby subjecting also the latter to the percentage increase established by the budget law for the supplementary agreements of the State administrations. This legal obligation for quantification of the resources to be allocated for supplementary agreements in non-State administrations was again included in the 2004 budget law.

The duration of agreements and the presence and content of peace obligations.

According to the tripartite agreement of July 1993, national divisional agreements elapse every four years as regards their legal part and every two years for the pay part. Moreover, the public sector bargaining structure has various features in common with the public sector, among them a clause on industrial peace for three months prior to expiry of the national-level collective agreement and for one month after it.

The main issues of collective bargaining by referring to the latest renewals.

Various studies (eg L. Bordogna, Le relazioni sindacali nel settore pubblico, in G.P. Cella, T. Treu, Le nuove relazioni industriali, Bologna: Il Mulino, 1998; L. Bordogna, Contrattazione integrativa e gestione del personale nelle pubbliche amministrazioni, Milano: Franco Angeli, 2002; F. Carinci, Una riforma conclusa, in F. Carinci, L. Zoppoli, Il lavoro nelle pubbliche amministrazioni, Torino: Utet, 2004; M. Ricciardi, La contrattazione collettiva nelle pubbliche amministrazioni: luci, ombre e pregiudizi, in Lavoro e diritto, n. 3-4, 2004) have examined collective bargaining in the public sector and analysed its structure’s evolution over the past ten years. Attention has focused in particular on the issues subject to negotiation (both national and decentralised) in the last two bargaining rounds (1998-2001; 2002-2005).

At national level, the main novelties in these two bargaining rounds have concerned the job classification system, with the creation of a new one (see section 2), the introduction of forms of flexible work and definition of arbitration procedures for the settlement of individual labour disputes.

As regards supplementary collective bargaining, since the second phase of public sector reform (1997-1998), it has considerably strengthened and spread, especially in local authorities. Besides the number of agreements, there has also been an increase in the range of issues negotiated at decentralised level: principally, performance-related pay, horizontal and vertical advancement, training, and trade-union rights.

Levels and recent trends in conflict.The presence and main features of forms of regulation of labour conflict and collective dispute resolution procedures. Please indicate whether such rules are specific to the central government sector, or apply to the whole public sector, or are general and cover both public and private sectors.

Exercise of the right to strike in the public sector is regulated by law 146/1990 (subsequently amended and supplemented by law 83/2000) on strikes in essential public services. The law does not refer exclusively to public services, but to service content in terms of obligatoriness and continuity of provision. Its range of application therefore extends to include sectors not pertaining to the public administration as defined in section 1, for instance postal services, banking, transport and information. However, the law regulates the right to strike also in important areas of the public sector like education, healthcare, the ministries and local bodies.

The law contains measures regarding prior notice of strikes, their duration and form that they may take, and the indispensable services whose provision must be guaranteed to the public.

Law 146/1990 also instituted a Guarantee Authority (Commissione di Garanzia) consisting of nine members appointed by the Prime Minister who assess and supervise compliance with the regulations and application of penalties if they are breached. The amendments made by law 83/2000 introduced changes mainly concerning the functions of the Guarantee Authority, substantially strengthening its powers in the prevention and conciliation of disputes (IT0004266F).

As more particularly regards the central state administration, in March 2005 the Aran, the trade-union confederations Cgil, Cisl, Uil, Confsal, Confintesa and Usae, and the unions Fp-Cgil, Fps-Cisl, Uil-Pa, Federazione Intesa, Confsal-Unsa and Flp reached an important agreement on guaranteeing essential public services and on cooling-off and conciliation procedures in the event of strikes, which implemented the provisions of law 146/1990 in the ministries division (Accordo sulle norme di garanzia dei servizi pubblici essenziali e sulle procedure di raffreddamento e conciliazione in caso di sciopero). The agreement specified the ministerial services deemed indispensable, the form that strike action must take, and the cooling-off and conciliation procedures.

Despite the introduction by law of specific procedures to regulate the right to strike in essential public services, the level of conflict in the public administration is still rather high. In 2004, the working hours lost because of conflict on employment conditions amounted to 974,000 (20.1% of the total unworked hours dues to strikes in all sectors). This figure was only exceeded by the hours lost in the manufacturing sector (1.5 million, 30.6% of the total) and was greater than in the transport and communications sector (491,000 hours unworked, 10.2% of the total) and in the banking and insurance sector (470,000 hours unworked, 9.7% of the total. Source: Istat, Annuario statistico 2005).

7. Commentary by the NC

Reform of the public administration has been in progress for more than ten years, and it has introduced major changes. Substantially, the goals pursued have been the following:

  • Increase the efficiency of the public administration;
  • rationalise the cost of the public sector, so that overall spending on personnel, direct and indirect, is kept within budgetary constraints;
  • make better use of human resources, concentrating on training and professional development, guaranteeing equal opportunities, and applying the same conditions as in the private sector.

The introduction of collective bargaining to regulate the employment relationships of the majority of public employees has certainly brought the public sector closer to the private one, significantly reducing the features that gave public sector employees their distinctive status.

As shown, besides regulation of the employment relationship by collective bargaining, other change factors have been; for example, the creation of a single agency representing the public administrations, definition of criteria for union representativeness, trade-union representation in workplaces and the spread of decentralised bargaining, the separation between central government powers and those of the administrations, the introduction of incentives in personnel management, and a new job classification system.

To date, however, implementation of these changes has produced uneven results among the various ‘collective bargaining divisions’ and ‘areas’ of the public administration, and in many cases they have had unexpected effects.

The apparent antithesis between the transition of the Italian State towards some form of federalism and the more recent provisions on collective bargaining in the public sector, which seems again to be moving towards centralisation (especially in the case of the non-State administrations); the increasingly longer delays in recent renewals of collective agreements; the difficulties that have arisen in the last two ‘bargaining rounds’ as regards the resources to allocate to productivity and their use at the level of individual administrations; the problems of measuring productivity itself and the difficulties of supplementary bargaining in recognising merit and commitment as indirect measures of improvement in the quality of services; the difficulty of distinguishing between the establishment of guidelines (the government’s responsibility) and managing activities (the administration’s responsibility); the difficult and incomplete task of monitoring and assessing the work of public sector managers in fulfilment of their targets: All these problems, on the one hand, highlight the difficulties encountered by the reform process, and, on the hand, evince that the reform process of Italian public administration has not yet achieved stable equilibrium.

Diego Coletto, Fondazione Regionale Pietro Seveso

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