Italy: latest working life developments Q2 2018
The new government’s employment objectives, the RSU elections and developments within the gig economy at local and national level are the main topics of interest in this article. This country update reports on the latest developments in working life in Italy in the second quarter of 2018.
New government sets out employment objectives
In May, about two months after the general elections, the Five Star Movement (M5S) and the League reached an agreement on the formation of the new government, which took office on 1 June. The government is led by Giuseppe Conte, a private law professor at the University of Florence, while the two leaders of the coalition partners, Luigi Di Maio (M5S) and Matteo Salvini (League) are deputy prime ministers. Moreover, Di Maio is Minister of Economic Development and of Labour and Social Policies, while Salvini is Minister of the Interior.
As far as employment is concerned, the contract for the ‘government of change’, signed in May by the two leaders and approved in a consultation with their respective constituencies, includes a number of objectives. 1
- Introduction of a legal minimum hourly wage for workers and sectors not covered by collective agreements
- Banning of non-paid apprentices in the liberal professions
- Structural reduction of the tax wedge and the reduction of red tape linked to the administration of employment relations
- Introduction of a reformed system of vouchers for casual work, which were abolished in 2017
- Reform of active labour policies and income support measures, with a strengthening of employment services
- Revision of the Jobs Act introduced by the previous government
- Strengthening of vocational training.
Among the first government initiatives, the issue of EU immigration policies figures prominently, as well as labour market policies. The latter have been addressed with the enactment of the ‘dignity decree’ in mid-July 2018 (decree-law no. 87/2018), which establishes stricter rules on temporary employment and, under certain circumstances, the refund of public incentives for investment in case the benefiting company decides to relocate the supported activity within five years.
High level of support for RSU elections
The elections of the main employee representative bodies (RSUs) in public administration took place in April, involving some 2.7 million workers covered by collective bargaining. According to the first unofficial data published by a number of trade unions, the turnout rate was very high. The unions affiliated to the three major confederations – the Italian General Confederation of Labour (CGIL), Italian Confederation of Workers' Trade Unions (CISL) and Italian Labour Union (UIL) – received the support of almost 75% of the votes cast. The official results will be released by Aran, the public sector bargaining agency, and are expected before the end of the year.
Gig economy issues at local and national level
The gig economy is a growing reality in Italy and the protests staged by food delivery riders since 2016 have been extensively covered by the media and in the public debate. 2 Recently, the issues of compensation, security, and health and safety have returned to the spotlight because of new protests linked to accidents involving riders, notably in the Milan metropolitan area.
A policy brief published by INAPP in June discusses some basics elements of both these developments and the organisational models of the main gig economy companies (e.g. Google, Amazon, Facebook and the main food delivery businesses).3 Although the economic relevance of the gig economy is growing, the creation of employment seems to be concentrated in particular segments (Amazon, for example, makes extensive use of temporary agency workers). On the other hand, food delivery companies mostly purchase the services of independent workers – the riders – and so the employment creation impact is not directly apparent.
The terms of employment and working conditions for the 10,000 estimated food delivery riders in Italy are the focus of one of the first initiatives of Minister Di Maio. 4 The initiative involves the major food delivery operators in Italy (i.e. foodora, Deliveroo, Just Eat, Glovo, Domino’s, Socialfood, Uber Eats and Moovenda) and aims to provide protection for these workers through a specific collective agreement or the introduction of a special legislative framework, should the negotiations fail.5 In principle, the riders are actually covered by the national collective agreement for logistics,6 which envisages such job positions for employees. However, their associations point out that the main issue is the current non-standard employment status of riders, rather than a lack of regulation.
At local level, at the end of May, the ‘Charter of Fundamental Rights of Digital Workers in the Urban Area’ was signed by the Bologna town administration, the territorial structures of CGIL, CISL and UIL, Riders Union Bologna and two brands of one Italian operator in the food delivery sector, Sgnam and Mymenu. The charter covers a number of fundamental issues, including information disclosure rights, fair compensation, health and safety, discrimination, termination of employment, privacy, the right of association and the right to strike.
In this period, the measures of the new government remained at the centre of the debate on labour and employment issues. The balance between the support of the autonomy of social partners and the government’s initiative is still uncertain. The enactment of the ‘dignity decree’ provoked an intense debate and important criticisms. Possible adjustments to the final legislative text will illustrate the government’s willingness to take the remarks of various stakeholders into consideration.
1 Italian Government: Contratto per il governo del cambiamento , May 2018
2 Tassinari, A. and Maccarrone, V. (2017), The mobilisation of gig economy couriers in Italy: Some lessons for the trade union movement , Transfer: European Review of Labour and Research, Vol. 23, No. 3, pp. 353–357.
3 INAPP (2018), Le Piattaforme Digitali in Italia. Un’Analisi della dinamica economica e occupazionale , No. 8, June.
4 24 Ore Italia (2018), Dai rider ai servizi cloud, un milione gli addetti della gig economy , 2 June.
5 Italian Government (2018), Riders, concertazione ad oltranza per un contratto innovtivo , 3 July.
6 FILT-CGIL (2018), Rider: Filt CGIL, Nel CCNL Logistica Coniugata Qualità con Sicurezza sul lavoro , 18 July.