NEWS » Mass protest against Matteo Renzi's labour market reform

Mass protest against Matteo Renzi's labour market reform

More than one million people protested in Rome against Matteo Renzi’s  labour market reform. CGIL, the largest union organised the rally to protest against the new regulations which weaken labour protection and make it easier for firms to dismiss workers.

According to ISTAT the unemployment rate amongst 15-24 year olds has reached in Italy 44.2 %, almost doubling the German rate. Italy is the fourth country (after Czech republic, Slovakia and Greece) in the OECD for making use of “fake self employment business collaborations”. In this case workers have to clock in and clock out but are not employed by the company, and are considered freelance workers without holidays, sickness coverage and maternity leave, etc.

It’s no wonder that “Work, dignity and equality to change Italy” was the name given to the protest. CGIL asked for the end of work instability reducing the types of contracts in favour of permanent employment, but also redundancy payment for every job sector and a social safety net for everyone, made available through heavier taxation on the richest part of the community.

The job Act intends to cancel compulsory workers’ reinstatement in the place of work as it is foreseen in article 18, the symbol of the most important gains made by the Italian labour movement since the 1970s. The article makes it impossible to dismiss a worker without a valid reason in companies with more than 15 employees. If the article is abolished it  will be possible for companies to dismiss workers for economic reasons, but they’ll have to pay a compensation proportioned to the length of service. The new rule will apply only to newly hired employees. As a matter of fact the core of Renzi’s Jobs Act is the elimination of protection against layoffs in existing labour agreements and the introduction of a universally applicable contract with a three-year probationary period. The declared aims of the Job Act are in fact to simplify job contracts and job relationships through a permanent contract with increasing protection for seniority. The regulation also foresees minimum wage and safety net for “continuous collaboration” contracts. It will be also possible for workers who didn’t use all their holidays to give them to colleagues who need parental care time. Another strategy to fight unemployment will be solidarity contracts: a reduction of the working hours in order to have more people working for less hours.

Renzi's centre-left Democratic Party (PD) is by no means united on the abolition of Article 18 and this might lead to a long battle which could weaken the PD party.

Giulia Lombardo

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