Temporary agency work to be extended
In November 1999, after an agreement among themselves, trade unions and employers successfully asked the Italian government to modify some aspects of the legislation on temporary agency work and to extend its possible use to areas previously excluded by law - unskilled work and the agriculture and building sectors.
The temporary workers' organisations affiliated to the Cgil, Cisl and Uil trade union confederations - respectively Nidil-Cgil, Alai-Cisl and Uil-Cpo- and Confiterim, the employers' body for temporary work agencies, signed a national collective agreement for the temporary agency work sector in May 1999 (IT9806170N). They subsequently decided to negotiate on modifying some aspects of the regulation of temporary agency work (lavoro interinale). This form of work has only relatively recently been permitted in Italy, and is restricted to skilled workers and certain sectors (IT9804163N)
The negotiations ended on 22 November 1999 with the signature of an agreement which provides for some fundamental innovations in the temporary agency work relationship, as follows.
- Training fund. A joint body will be entrusted with the management of the fund for temporary agency worker training established by Article 5 of Law 196/97 (IT9707308F). This joint body will be set up by the sectoral social partners and will be responsible for defining the management and monitoring procedures of training activities. The partners also propose that training activities can be carried out during temporary work assignments.
- Activities and qualifications. The partners want the current law to be amended, so as to extend the use of temporary agency work to cover low-skilled and unskilled workers. The activities and the level of qualifications for which it will be possible to have recourse to the use of temporary agency workers will be defined by national collective agreement.
- Sectors. The partners decided to extend the use of temporary agency work to the agriculture and building sectors, in an experimental way. Decentralised collective bargaining will be responsible for the definition of the specific activities and of the relevant qualifications for which it will be possible to have recourse to temporary work in these sectors.
Furthermore, the employers wanted to negotiate a reduction of the percentage of the workers' pay allocated for training (at present 5% of the pay) and the possibility for temporary work agencies to carry out other activities within the labour market (such as placement services). These companies are currently obliged by the law to provide only temporary work services. The temporary workers' union organisations did not approve the two proposals put forward by the employers and preferred to postpone a final decision until after having experimented with the new regulations.
Also on 22 November, the representatives of temporary agency work social partners met the undersecretary of labour, Raffaele Morese, to ask for the law on temporary agency work to be modified in line with the agreement signed. During the meeting, the partners asked the government to accept the modifications negotiated and to present them to parliament as an amendment to the budget law which is currently being approved. The government accepted the proposals of the partners and will include the new regulations in the law.
Enzo Mattina, president of Confinterim, declared that he was satisfied with the agreement. On the union side, Cesare Minghini, secretary general of Nidil-Cgil, said that: "if we manage to make the training fund operational, this agreement will become more competitive than the other forms of contingent employment." The president of Alai-Cisl, Mario Ajello, and the confederal secretary of Cisl, Raffaele Bonanni, stated in a circular letter that "Cisl does not exclude the possibility, in the near future, to allow temporary work agencies to provide placement services under the law."