Labour Research February 2012

European news

Italian unions hope for agreement

The three main Italian union confederations are hoping for an agreement in their discussions with the government on changes to employment rights.

However, as Susanna Camusso, leader of the largest confederation, the CGIL, has said, “the decision will be taken on merit”.

The government, led by the former European commissioner, Mario Monti, has made changing labour law one of the key elements of his plans to modernise Italy, alongside liberalising the professions and removing restrictions on the provision of services.

Discussions appear to be progressing and both sides have said that they would like to reduce the complexity of the Italian employment system, with CGIL suggesting that the existing 46 forms of employment contract could be reduced to just five.

However, an agreement could be jeopardised if the government tries to change the rules on unfair dismissal. At present employees in companies with more than 15 employees must be reinstated if the courts find that they have been dismissed unfairly.

The employers want these rights to go, and some in the government appear to agree. However, the unions are united in their opposition to change. Eliminating these rights, would, in the view of Raffael Bonanni, the head of CISL, be “a very great mistake”.