Italy’s confused prospective for Workers

Italy’s workers’ unstable prospective sees the Government take (de)structive step backwards, instead of forwards surrounded by a cloud of uncertainty and ignorance (or misinformation) of the people.

Ratified two years after France, the International Workers’ Day in Italy first took place in 1890. It was an initial attempt to celebrate the workers’ achievements in their struggle for their rights. It was abolished during the Fascist regime and restored after the Second World War. During the Fascist regime a similar day, the “Holiday of the Italian Labour,” was celebrated on April 21st, falling purposely on the date of “Roman Christmas” or when ancient Rome is said to have been founded. Nowadays, regardless of which day of the week it falls on, May 1st is a holiday. Celebrating the workers’ struggle for better rights, which status does this category now hold?

Described to have been completed “…quite in silence” the Conti government has recently agreed to decrease Italian workers’ rights to the European minimum. Italy’s government has been led, for a year so far, by Giuseppe Conte, an independent in coalition with two political parties: the 5 Star Movement and the League,  whose leaders are Luigi di Maio and Matteo Salvini, respectively. They are also Deputy Prime Ministers. Many of their law changes on several matters have been greatly debated, even at the European Union level, and not all of them seem to be advantageous for Italy, as they had otherwise promised during their electoral campaigns.

Workers’ Laws: European and International Obligations

During February of this year, the government seems to have approved a law that would authorize changes made to the working market in order to, “…create an organic system of dispositions in matter of making the regulating principles of dispositions clearer which are already enacted [and introducing] a complex harmony of simple applications to protect the workers’ and their employers’ rights.”

It seems that to do so the government has chosen to, “…eliminate all levels of regulation superior to the minimums required by the European Union (EU).” We are practically stepping back to the 1950s. These changes would, in fact, affect laws like protecting mothers during maternity leave who mandatorily get 2 weeks of leave, but could choose to take up to 3 months. Furthermore, the EU does not define all the present laws relating to workers and their rights, therefore, these changes could take further steps backwards on those matters not discussed by the EU.

Our government seems to forget that it has international obligations that go beyond those mandated by the EU, which are binding like art. 117 of the Italian Constitution. Such international obligations dictate on matters such as minor workers, maternity leave, unions, and the right to collective bargaining which helps maintain negotiations for workers’ rights.

(Reddito di Cittadinanza) Citizens’ Income:  a chaotic state on Facebook

Luigi di Maio functioning not only as Deputy, but also as Minister of Economic Development, integrated the Reddito di Cittadinanza, loosely translated as “Citizens’ Income” to offer financial support to those who make less than 780 Euros per month, including the elderly. It seeks to also pay greater attention to those families with someone who is disabled within their household .

Those who are granted financial support must sign up to a job search program and “…for social inclusion.” A citizen can reject a job proposal only twice, initially searching for jobs up to 100 kilometers from their home, and up to a national level if a job has not been found after a year.

Requested through the National Institution for Social Foresight (INPS) where all workers must register, the institution’s Facebook page was recently on fire. After people registered, some users started asking questions online stating that they had not been provided with enough information. Some state that their application was not approved as it should have been and so on. The screenshots of the users’ post, however, have now gone viral for their hilarious nature.

Some users clearly stated that they were not legally registered to work, others kept asking the same questions, while others were unable to follow the instructions provided by the Institution on how to properly register online.

The social media manager of the page must have gotten quite upset as they wrote, “…if you can waste your time here on Facebook or take photos with bunny ears, I am sure you can properly gain the PIN code to register.” The manager also, on multiple posts, underlined that by law they are obliged to report if anyone is working illegally. This did not stop others from clearly and publically declaring their working status; for example, someone asked: “…if I am illegally employed, but my wife is unemployed can she ask for financial support?” (see the image below).

Source: INPS per la Famiglia Facebook Page

Considering the state of our country and our workers, we could agree that the one-day holiday is well deserved to ponder about the government which is (confusingly) running our country, but also it’s a good time for those who decided to release their numerous questions on a Facebook page, to inform themselves properly through more adequate sources. Since this holiday falls on a Wednesday, many will have instead found the perfect excuse to lose an entire week of work.

If everyone is either unaware, confused, not properly educated on the matter, or on a holiday, are we relying only on our government to make these (silent) decisions?