New agreement signed for schools sector

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In February 2001, following a long dispute, a new collective agreement was signed for the Italian schools sector. As well as providing for an average total monthly pay increase of ITL 300,000, the deal introduces performance-related increases, allocated partly at the discretion of schools and partly through local bargaining. The agreement also regulates decentralised bargaining at individual school level and covers parental leave, training leave and trade union rights.

On 15 February 2001, after a long period of negotiations and dispute (IT0010163N), the school workers' trade unions affiliated to the Cgil, Cisl and Uil confederations and the Aran public sector employers' bargaining agency signed a new sectoral collective agreement for the schools sector, covering 2000-1. The deal followed the conclusion by the unions and the government on 15 December 2000 of an accord on the funds to be allocated to pay increases and to the reform of the schools sector in the state budget (IT0101172N). The February collective agreements regulates the allocation of these funds and also provides for a major innovation of the sector's industrial relations system, with the introduction of "collective bargaining at the level of individual schools".

Under the new agreement, workplace employee representative bodies (Rsu s) and local unions will be entitled to negotiate directly with school managers the following issues:

  • the deployment of schools personnel in the context of the "training supply plan" - a programme of activities that each school must prepare every year with the participation of teachers;
  • the application of trade union rights;
  • the implementation of regulations on health and safety at work;
  • the organisation of teaching activities and the distribution of working time; and
  • the distribution of the funds allocated to rewarding professional commitment and labour flexibility.

The agreement consolidates trade union rights, guaranteeing Rsus and local trade unions the right to hold works meetings of staff, during paid working time, for up to 10 hours per year.

The section of the agreement dealing with pay, which had been the source of much disagreement among the trade unions, provides for a total monthly basic increase for the two-year period of ITL 110,000 (EUR 57), paid starting from March/April 2001. On top of this, there are various allowances distributed according to the workers' length of service (anzianità di servizio): ITL 120,000 (EUR 62) per month for those with up to 14 years' service; ITL 173,000 (EUR 89) for those with 15-27 years' service; and ITL 205,000 (EUR 106) for those with 28 years' service or more.

The agreement also establishes a performance-related pay scheme in order to award all those teachers who are involved in afternoon school activities. For this purpose, the agreement has allocated ITL 300 billion (EUR 155 million) for 2001, ITL 400 billion (EUR 207 million) for 2002 and ITL 600 billion (EUR 310 million) for 2003, to be distributed to all schools. Each of Italy's 10,800 schools will receive some ITL 30 million (EUR 15,000) per month. The board of teachers (collegio dei docenti) in each school will decide whether to use these funds to reward extra school activities or teachers' labour flexibility. The distribution of these extra payments at individual school level will be negotiated by the Rsu. School-level bargaining will also decide how to distribute among teachers the "school funds" (Fondi di istituto) allocated to each school to acknowledge the "professional commitment of teachers" and "forms of organisational and teaching flexibility".

The agreement also introduces parental leave and training leave provisions, already provided for in the public administration sector. Furthermore, 1% of total paybill will be allocated for continuing training, described by the agreement as a "fundamental tool for the personal and the qualitative growth of the school system". Further negotiations will decide how to use these funds.

The social partners have also agreed to start new negotiations on a series of other issues: arbitration and conciliation; study leave; creation of and "hour bank"; teleworking; and temporary work. Negotiations on these topics should be concluded by 30 June 2001.

Gilda and Snals, two autonomous trade unions, took part in the bargaining alongside Aran and the three confederal trade unions, but they refused to sign the agreement considering it a "bluff". Fedele Ricciato, the general secretary of Snals, said that the pay increases provided for by the agreement were "ridiculous". The national coordinator of Gilda, Alessandro Ameli, also criticised the agreement, especially the devolution of bargaining over resources to the "confused" level of school bargaining. The Cobas rank-and-file committees did not take part in the negotiations and criticised what they see as the idea at the basis of the agreements: "turning schools into companies". The Cobas wanted an equal distribution of the increased resources and not increases linked to personal performance.

For their part, the signatory trade unions were satisfied with the agreement. Daniela Culturani, general secretary of Cisl's school workers' union Cisl Scuola, said that the agreement is positive because reduces the gap between Italian teachers' salaries and those elsewhere in Europe. The general secretary of Cgil Scuola, Enrico Panini, underlined the importance of Rsus within schools, which have now become genuine bargaining agents, even in the area of remuneration. According to Massimo Di Menna, general secretary of Uil Scuola, the agreement "is consistent with the agreement signed with the government in December."

The minister of education, Tullio De Mauro, said that the agreement signed on 15 February is a clear step "towards the adoption of average European pay levels" in schools.

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