New agreement in chemical and pharmaceutical sector

A new national collective agreement for the chemical and pharmaceutical sector in Italy was signed on 4 March 2013. The agreement, signed by the Federchimica, Farmindustria, and all the sectoral trade unions, covers around 180,000 workers and 3,000 companies. The document deals with a number of important issues including vocational training, productivity and increasing employment among young people. Both employer and employee groups say they are happy with the outcome.

Background

In March 2013, Italy’s employer organisations agreed on a renewal of the National Collective Agreement for the Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sector. The agreement was signed by the Federchimica and Farmindustria, as well as all of the sectoral trade union federations – the Filctem Cgil, Femca Cisl, Uiltec-Uil, UGL Chimici, Failc-Confail, and Fialc-Cisal.

The agreement, which applies to more than 180,000 workers in around 3,000 companies, covers the three years from 2013 to 2015. The renewal of the agreement was preceded by a deal between the sectoral trade unions in May 2012. This established the basis of the new national collective agreement which sets out its aim to protect the spending power of workers and to improve sectoral industrial relations (IT1206039I).

Pay and welfare

The agreement will mean an increase of €148 for the three-year period of the deal, to be paid in instalments. From 1 December 2012, workers will get a €10 rise and a €33 increase from January 2013. On 1 January 2014, they will receive another €43, from 1 January 2015, €47, and from 1 October 2015, €15.

The agreement will also see an increase of 0.2% in the sectoral pension fund, the Fonchim (in Italian), which will be paid entirely by the enterprises in the sector.

National and company-level bargaining

The national collective agreement makes it possible to introduce ‘opening clauses’ in company-level agreements in the sector. This was laid down in the Interconfederal Agreement of 28 June 2011 (IT1108029I). The company-level agreements that opt out of the national collective agreement can be undersigned by the company representatives together with territorial organisations.

The opening clauses must be based on the guidelines defined by the social actors at national level and cannot deal with inalienable individual rights or minimum salary levels.

Minimum wage levels can only be modified at company level in order to promote the adoption of open-ended contracts for young people, and under certain conditions including the following:

  • a minimum wage must be guaranteed for the young worker which cannot be less than 80% of the standard salary for the same category;
  • the minimum wage cannot be modified for more than 36 months;
  • it must be possible to foresee an increase of the modified minimum wage halfway through the derogation period.

Industrial Relations School established

A new Industrial Relations School has been set up at sectoral level. Its main priority is to encourage the participation in constructive industrial relations, which is considered indispensable to find a coherent balance between company-level and national bargaining. The Industrial Relations School will be run jointly by the trade unions and employer organisations.

A National Committee has also been set up which will study new models of participation considering the current reality of the enterprises in the sector. At company level, a new joint committee on industrial relations will be established.

New opportunities for young people

The new national collective agreement clarifies the central role of vocational training in improving the quality of human resources. It says that adequate training programmes favour the professional development of workers making it easier to employ them in different company activities. It says training improves employability and productivity. The signatories to the agreement say they have expressed their intention to better promote continuous vocational training and the role of bilateral bodies for training within the chemical sector.

The agreement will also see the development of projects at company level designed to create more work for young people. These so-called Progetti Ponte (Bridging Projects) will make it possible for older workers to reduce their working hours, allowing young people into a business. A senior worker close to retirement will, by working part time for a limited period, act as a tutor working alongside the new employee.

Reaction of the social partners

The groups involved in the deal have expressed their satisfaction with the new national collective agreement.

Cesare Puccioni, the President of Federchimica, says the new agreement provides enterprises with instruments that will be extremely useful in improving productivity and employment levels in the sector.

Massimo Scaccabarozzi, the President of Farmindustria, also thinks the agreement creates the necessary conditions to improve productivity which will help make enterprises more competitive. Federchimica has also underlined the strategic role of the Industrial Relations School in convincing all the sectoral actors of the importance of constructive industrial relations.

The trade unions are also happy with the agreement. According to Sergio Gigli, the General Secretary of Femca Cisl, the new agreement contains the necessary instruments to increase productivity and stabilise employment in enterprises through second-level bargaining.

Emilio Miceli, the General Secretary of Filctem Cgil, highlighted the common commitments undertaken regarding the need to develop policies concerning industrial reconversion, the ‘green economy’ and investments.

According to Paolo Pirani, the General Secretary of Uiltec-Uil, the agreement represents an act of trust stipulated between the partners which will help overcome the current economic difficulties.

Sofia Sanz, Cesos

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