National collective agreement signed for insurance sector

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A new national collective agreement for the Italian insurance sector was signed in July 2003. As well as pay increases, the agreement contains a number of innovatory provisions, including: the creation of a national observatory on bullying, the establishment of a fund for the care of disabled workers; and enhanced information and consultation, including on equal opportunities issues.

On 18 July 2003, a new national collective agreement for some 40,000 workers in the insurance sector was signed by the National Association of Insurance Companies (Associazione Nazionale Imprese Assicurative, Ania) employers’ association, representing insurance companies, and five trade unions. The latter were: the sectoral organisations affiliated to the General Confederation of Italian Workers (Confederazione Generale Italiana del Lavoro, Cgil), the Italian Confederation of Workers’ Unions (Confederazione Italiana Sindacato Lavoratori, Cisl) and the Union of Italian Workers (Unione Italiana del Lavoro, Uil) - Fiba, Fisac and Uilca respectively; and the autonomous National Federation of Insurers (Federazione Nazionale Assicuratori, Fna) and National Trade Union of Insurance Company Managers (Sindacato Nazionale Funzionari Imprese Assicuratrici, Snfia). The previous agreement expired at the end of 2002, and the new accord was signed after 18 months of negotiations which saw periods of conflict among the parties, resulting in 20 hours of strike action and a national demonstration in autumn 2002.

The insurance sector in Italy is undergoing structural change, with company mergers and reorganisations, while also experiencing a period of significant business growth. The total value of insurance premia collected in 2002 stood at about EUR 87.7 billion, 15% more than in 2001, and insurance expenditure represented 7% of GDP in 2002, up form 4.8% in 1998. Italian insurance policies, in particular for cars and scooters/motorcycles, are among the most expensive in Europe.

The most innovative aspects of the new agreement are as follows:

  • there will be a monthly wage increase of EUR 129 from 1 January 2003 (backdated) and a one-off payment of EUR 1,195 to cover the period between the expiry of the old collective agreement and the conclusion of the new one. A 0.20% increase will be awarded on 1 January 2004 to reflect the positive performance of the sector;
  • :the previous national collective agreement provided for a national-level information and consultation procedure on the services provided by insurance companies. The new agreement offers additionally the possibility of a similar procedure at company level to compare the quality of the products and the services provided. Furthermore, companies must provide unitary workplace union structures (rappresentanze sindicali unitarie, Rsus) with company-level information concerning work/training contracts which have been converted into open-ended contracts. The agreement also provides for the possibility of information procedures at group level;
  • decentralised bargaining will still be possible at both company and group level;
  • equal opportunities joint committees will be set up at company level. They will be responsible for examining the presence of women within the company, detecting possible obstacles to women’s careers, suggesting initiatives aimed at preventing violence and harassment at the workplace, and identifying professional opportunities for women. Moreover, particular attention will be paid to the gender balance of employees participating in vocational training and retraining courses organised by companies;
  • a joint observatory will be set up to examine the problem of bullying (or 'mobbing'). The observatory will monitor and analyse potential problematic situations and plan positive actions aimed at preventing bullying and at defining codes of conduct;
  • a joint body will be set up to assist workers affected by incapacitating occupational illnesses. A long-term care fund will also be set up to pay benefits to these disabled workers, to which companies will make contributions worth 0.2% of paybill;
  • the signatories to the agreement state that the valorisation of human resources and the development of vocational qualifications are key factors which can contribute to improving the quality and efficiency of the services provided by insurance companies. Companies will thus organise special training programmes addressed to the workers directly affected by reorganisation programmes and those who have not attended training for a long time;
  • companies will take action in order to hire on open-ended contracts, within three years of the signature of the agreement, at least 45% of the personnel of call centres. Call centre workers on temporary contracts will have priority for open-ended recruitment. Call centre workers will also receive an extra pay increase equal to 2% of their yearly remuneration, from 1 January 2004; and
  • the partners will meet within 60 days of the approval of the recent 'proxy law' on the reform of the labour market (IT0307204F) in order to examine the impact of the law's provisions on 'atypical' workers on the sector's agreed employment conditions.

According to the trade unions, the agreement is 'a very positive result' which allows the parties to 'safeguard employment and manage, with effective tools, the changes which are affecting the sector'.

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