Italy: Latest working life developments – Q1 2017

The postponement of social and labour policies, the repeal of mini-jobs’ vouchers, the Alitalia crisis and the renewal of the collective agreement in the textile sector are the main topics of interest in this article. This country update reports on the latest developments in working life in Italy in the first quarter of 2017.

Changes for labour market and social inclusion

An act providing for economically dependent self-employed workers to get continuing unemployment benefit (DIS-COLL) came into force on 1 March 2017. This was Act No. 19/2017 (Decreto Milleproroghe), which covers workers hired under so-called ‘continuous and coordinated contracts’, who become unemployed between 1 January and 30 June 2017.

The act also reintroduces the Extraordinary Wages Guarantee Fund (Cassa integrazione guadagni straordinaria), which can be activated at the discretion of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies, for companies operating in an area facing a significant industrial crisis, for a maximum of 12 months. In addition, funding aimed at covering the Special Wages Guarantee Fund (Cassa integrazione guadagni in deroga) for the fishery sector has been increased.

Strong protests led to the act postponing two measures that would adversely affect itinerant traders and taxi drivers. For itinerant traders, it was decided to postpone for two years the implementation of Directive 2006/123/EC on services in the internal market, which requires tenders to be held for the use of public space. For taxi drivers, the implementation of standards and procedures relating to alternative forms of public transport (such as Uber or car rentals with a driver) has also been postponed for two years.

On 9 February, the National Agency for Active Labour Market Policies (ANPAL) gave notice of a pilot phase of the replacement allowance (PDF). This measure consists of a €32 million support service provided by public employment services and targeted at unemployed people. The measure will be trialled with around 30,000 people who have been unemployed for four months.

Renewal of the collective agreement in the textile sector

The new national collective bargaining agreement for the textile sector was signed on 21 February after 23 months of negotiations. It covers about 420,000 employees and will remain in force for 45 months with retroactive effect (from 1 April 2016 until 31 December 2019).

From 1 April, the agreement provides for a €70 wage increase over the next three years for workers on the middle pay grade. The increases will be adjusted at the beginning of every year according to the actual inflation rate computed by the National Institute of Statistics (Istat), up to a maximum of €90 over a three-year period. The agreement also envisages supplementary welfare measures such as private additional healthcare and sets out new rules on parental leave.

Alitalia negotiations at delicate stage

Long-running negotiations at Alitalia between trade unions and management are at a delicate stage. Trade unions have constantly called for transparency on the new industrial plan, emphasising that Alitalia had said it did not plan to extend the applicable national collective bargaining agreement (which expired in December 2016) but will instead apply its corporate rules and regulations.

After the unions called a one-day general strike, and following a meeting with the government, Alitalia agreed to discuss the renewal of the agreement within the deadline for its approval at the end of the end of May. In March, the company eventually disclosed its 2017–2020 industrial plan, envisaging wage and job cuts.

Changes to rules on mini-jobs

Following the bill proposed by the government on 17 March 2017 to cancel the scheme using vouchers to pay mini-jobs (such as seasonal work) and to strengthen joint liability in subcontracting, the regulation of these topics is likely to remain in the political debate. Under the system, workers are not paid directly in money but with vouchers.

Though the proposed amendments are in line with the aim of the referendum promoted by the Italian General Confederation of Work (CGIL), scheduled in May, the union is continuing its campaign as they need to be approved by Parliament in the next weeks in order to be fully effective.

Outlook

In April 2017, the government will present its Economic and financial document, which is expected to address a number of measures on employment and social policies, including the fight against poverty, a reduction in the tax wedge on labour, and wage increases of public employees, which have been blocked for about eight years.

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