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Italy: fraught negotiations to renew collective agreements in several key sectors
Planet Labor, 2 March 2020, n°11686 - www.planetlabor.com

Italy’s engineering and metals sector trade unions are beginning to get impatient, after their collective agreement, which covers some 1.5 million workers, expired on 31 December 2019. The fourth plenary meeting with employer organisations was held on 19 February but remained generic. Negotiations are continuing at present at a technical level on five themes (training, security, the job scale, active employment policies, social relations), but the question of wages will not be tackled before the next plenary meeting scheduled for 11 March. The trade unions are demanding a minimum wage increase of 8% (see article n° 11338). Meanwhile in the food sector, which is particularly significant in Italy with around 400,000 workers, the FAI-Cisl, FLAI-Cgil and UILA unions broke off negotiations on 20 February. They said that over six months of discussions, the employer organisation Federalimentare “not only did not give a satisfactory response to union demands on wages and welfare, but it did not want to adequately tackle topics such as training, the job scale […] and generational renewal”. The food industry’s collective agreement expired on 30 November. Unions in the wood and furniture sector – another important sector for the ‘Made in Italy’ industry – went on strike on 21 February in a bid to renew the sector’s national collective agreement, which concerns 150,000 workers and expires on 31 March 2019. This time it was the employer organisation Federlegno that broke off negotiations in January, the main stumbling block being the work flexibility that it wants to promote and which, according to the trade unions, would lead to “an inordinate increase in instability” in the sector. There were also difficulties in the renewal of negotiations in the eyewear sector, a sector marked by the serious crisis at Safilo and the departure of industry giant Luxottica from employer organisation Confindustria.