Agreement signed for ministry employees

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In November 2000, a national collective agreement was signed adjusting the pay of employees of Italian ministries for inflation. It provides for a pay increase of ITL 154,000 (EUR 80) per month from January 2001. The increase is higher than the officially predicted level of inflation for the period in question. The Confindustria employers' organisation believes that the deal will have a negative effect on pay bargaining in the private sector.

Under the Italian bargaining system, national sectoral collective agreements run for four years, while pay is renegotiated every two years in order to align workers' wages to increases in the cost of living. The current four-year national collective agreement for employees of state ministries was signed on 16 February 1999, covering the 1998-2001 period. A new two-year pay adjustment agreement was signed on 13 November 2000. The deal, which involves more than 270,000 workers, was signed by Aran, the state bargaining agency, the sectoral trade unions affiliated to the three main confederations - Fp-Cgil, Fps-Cisl and Uil-Pa- and autonomous unions (Confsal Unsa). The agreement should be validated after parliament approves the 2001 state budget law (IT0009162F) at the end of 2000.

On the basis of the average annual salary of ITL 42 million (EUR 21,691), a monthly pay increase of ITL 154,000 (EUR 80) was agreed form 1 January 2001, made up as follows:

  • a ITL 96,000 (EUR 50) increase in the collectively agreed minimum rate;
  • a ITL 18,000 (EUR 9) "administration allowance";
  • ITL 40,000 (EUR 21) from the sectoral "productivity fund"

The agreement provides that a contribution equivalent to 1% of each worker's pay will be paid by employers into a supplementary pension fund, which will be set up and regulated through a specific agreement between the partners.

The deal signed by the social partners is based on a predicted inflation rate of about 2.3% for 2000, as set out in the budget law currently before parliament. The inflation rate previously forecast by the government was 1.2%.

The Confindustria employers' confederation is rather concerned about the effects on on pay bargaining in the private sector of what it sees as an excessive increase in pay, based on an inflation rate which is higher than previously foreseen by the government but closer to the actual increase of the cost of living. Guidalberto Guidi, the organisation's industrial relations advisor, calculated that the agreed increase implies a rise in ministerial workers' pay of about 4.7% over a two-year period. This rate exceeds inflation (4% over 2000-1, according to the latest governmental documents). Mr Guidi said that "if we add 1% for the resources allocated to the supplementary pension fund to the increase, we will end up with an increase in labour costs of 5.7%."

The renewal of the agreement for ministerial employees is the first in the public sector in the current four-year period. The renewal for the schools sector will pose particular problems because the negotiations between the partners have been interrupted (IT0010163N) and the trade union organisations have called another general strike on 7 December 2000. Mr Guidi said that Confindustria was concerned because other sectors might follow the example of the ministries: "if we have an increase of 5.7% for the ministries, increases for the schools and healthcare sector will possibly reach 7%."

Carlo Podda of Fp-Cgil stressed, in response to Confindustria's concerns, the importance of "the role of the public sector confederal trade unions in the process of financial recovery, implemented through a rigorous bargaining policy coherent with the contents of the 1993 agreement [the national incomes policy agreement - IT9803223F]". Salvatore Bosco and Rino Tarelli, the general secretaries of of Uil-Pa and Fps-Cisl respectively, underlined that it was the government that had reviewed the inflation forecasts. Moreover, Mr Tarelli highlighted the fact that the supplementary pension fund financed by employers' contributions of 1% was at last to become a reality.

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