Cisl organises virtual demonstration

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In February 2000, Italy's Cisl trade union confederation organised the country's first "virtual demonstration", in protest against the government's economic and employment policy. About 25,000 people took part in the demonstration.

On 12 February 2000, the Cisl trade union confederation protested against the government's economic and employment policy, through the first "virtual demonstration" ever held Italy. Demonstrations were organised in every city and linked through a video conference. In Rome, the organisational centre of the event, there were three large screens projecting live images of the ongoing demonstrations, while the demonstrators in 100 cities interacted via satellite. About 25,000 people took part in the demonstration.

At the demonstration, the general secretary of Cisl, Sergio D'Antoni, criticised once again the government's economic and employment policy. According to Mr. D'Antoni, "the government does not have an employment policy capable of tackling, in a direct way, the problem of youth unemployment in the South. The government's initiative, he stated, should be transparent, in the same way as the initiative that the earlier Prodi government had developed to enter EU Economic and Monetary Union". In order to create employment, Cisl proposes developing local concertation agreements, through which it would be possible to negotiate "real flexibility" as regards tax measures for southern companies. The model which should be followed in order to overcome inequalities is the "employment pact" signed in Milan in July 1999 (IT9908251F). "The employment pact for the city of Milan represents a concrete way to safeguard the rights of disadvantaged people," said Mr D'Antoni.

In his concluding speech, Cisl's general secretary summarised the confederation's proposals for a relaunch of employment policy, which is based on three main points:

  • a bond issue to finance investment in infrastructure and new technologies and to support southern companies;
  • a greater flexibility of employment relationships, wages and the tax system, reducing the scope of legislative intervention and entrusting negotiations among the social partners with the issue of working conditions; and
  • the extension, through a special project, of training for young people in the South.

Savino Pezzotta, deputy confederal secretary of Cisl, who opened the demonstration, reaffirmed the importance of a common commitment in favour of employment, leaving aside all the divisions which have recently characterised the relationships among the three main trade union confederations (IT9912137F). According to Mr Pezzotta, the "training levels of young people are not suitable to the needs of the labour market, work accidents are on the increase (IT0002351F), there is a high rate of youth and female unemployment, and illegal work is increasing."

Mr D'Antoni also criticised directly Massimo D'Alema, the Prime Minister, claiming that his government has changed Italy's "concertation" process, which has produced very positive results for Italy's economy, into a simple consultation process, intervening directly on subjects within the competence of the social partners, such as the current reform of the end-of-service allowance (trattamento di fine rapporto, Tfr) (IT9906119N). In this way the government, it is claimed, encourages employers not to honour the commitments undertaken in the 1998 tripartite "social pact" (IT9901335F) - "this is why Cisl does not agree with it," said Mr D'Antoni.

Sergio Cofferati, general secretary of the Cgil union confederation, did not comment on Cisl's demonstration but reiterated Cgil's position on the Milan employment pact, which Mr D'Antoni has taken as reference point for promoting employment in the South. According to Mr Cofferati, Cisl's position is just a "mask of modernity" used to hide the creation of a dual labour market, with two tiers of employment rights, by the Milan agreement

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