National collective agreement for temporary agency workers renewed

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In July 2002, employers' organisations and trade unions in the Italian temporary agency work sector signed a new national collective agreement. Alongside provisions on issues such as pay, training and trade union representation, the agreement provides for the creation of a number of joint bodies.

On 10 July 2002, the employers' associations for the temporary agency work sector, Confinterim and Ailt, and the sectoral trade union organisations - New Work Identities (Nuove Identità di Lavoro, Nidil) affiliated to the General Confederation of Italian workers (Confederazione Generale Italian del Lavoro, Cgil), the Atypical and Temporary Agency Workers' Association (Associazione Lavoratori Atipici e Interinali, Alai) affiliated to the Italian Confederation of Workers' Unions (Confederazione Italiana Sindacati Lavoratori, Cisl) and the Committees for Employment (Comitati per l'occupazione, Cpo) affiliated to the Union of Italian Workers (Unione Italiana del Lavoro, Uil) (IT9807327F)- signed a new national collective agreement for temporary agency workers. The agreement comes into force on 1 September 2002 and will expire in 2006.

In 2001, a total of 470,000 temporary agency workers were hired out in Italy, with 55% working in the industrial sector and 23% in the services sector. The renewal of the national collective agreement consolidates the regulation of temporary agency work in Italy, which was first introduced by legislation adopted in 1997 (Law 196/97) (IT9707308F). The new agreement confirms the structure of the first sectoral accord signed in 1998 (IT9806170N), which implemented the provisions of Law 196/97. It also introduces significant new institutional elements.

The new agreement defines in more detail the role and tasks of the existing Ebitemp sector-level joint body, which will now be able to open regional offices to provide services to workers. According to the agreement, Ebitemp will:

  • carry out 'service' functions for the joint bodies established by the agreement (see below);
  • pay occupational illness benefits to workers;
  • create a fund to guarantee access to credit for temporary agency workers;
  • manage the system of time off for trade union duties for union representatives employed in the sector; and
  • conduct a feasibility study on supplementary pensions.

The new agreement provides for the following joint bodies.

  • a national observatory 'for the study of joint initiatives promoted by the partners on employment, labour market, vocational training and qualification'. The observatory will be responsible for the analysis of vocational needs and for drawing up forecasts on the development of temporary agency work;
  • a national joint commission responsible for guaranteeing the observance of the agreement by the parties, updating the agreement and resolving any disputes over interpretation and application;
  • a joint committee for equal opportunities, which will examine all issues linked to women's access to work and promote positive action; and
  • joint regional conciliation and arbitration committees to deal with individual disputes. Committees will be set up on an experimental basis in six regions (Lazium, Lombardy, Campania, Emilia Romagna, Piedmont and Veneto). After one year and an initial evaluation, the partners will decide whether or not to set up committees in other regions.

The agreement provides for an individual right to training for agency workers, specifying training procedures and types (basic training, on-the-job training, vocational and continuing training). On-the-job training may not exceed weekly working hours. The social partners will define at local level training projects to be managed by the joint body for the training of temporary agency workers (Forma.temp).

The agreement gives temporary agency workers the right to trade union representation. There will be two level of representation: local representatives appointed by the trade union organisations which signed the agreement; and company representatives elected in each company by the temporary agency workers employed there. Trade unions will be able to call meetings during work time and workers will be able to benefit from two hours per year of paid leave for trade union purposes.

In order to improve health and safety at work, all agency workers must receive a 'health and risk form', setting out the working conditions of the job to which they are assigned

Job classification remains based on three groups, as set out in the 1998 agreement, but the occupational profiles are described in more detail. The agreement sets up a national commission which will analyse job classification and manage it in a flexible way .

As regards pay, the agreement provides that workers hired by temporary work agencies on open-ended contracts will receive a monthly 'availability' allowance of EUR 516 gross when not working in a user company. If the wages paid by a user company are lower than the availability allowance, the agency must pay the difference to the worker. The agreement reaffirms the principle that temporary agency workers are entitled to receive the same pay and contractual treatment as applied to the workers employed by the user company.

Enzo Mattina, the president of Confinterim, stated that 'the improvements made to the [agreement's] general structure seek to offer greater guarantees and opportunities to temporary agency workers'. The Cisl trade union confederation said that its objectives have been attained in the new agreement, these being: 'to increase protection rights, to supervise their application, to structure and consolidate the system of bilateral/participatory industrial relations, to provide more support and to improve the development of temporary agency work'.

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