December 22, 2014

Italian workers strike against changes to employment laws

Two of Italy’s largest trade unions have gone on strike against the government’s proposed labor reforms.

The Italian General Confederation of Labor (CGIL) and the Italian Labor Union (UIL)—which have a combined membership of nearly 8 million—called a strike on Friday 12 December in protest against Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s Jobs Act.

The Jobs Act, which has been approved by parliament but has yet to come into force, aims to encourage job creation by allowing employers more flexibility in hiring and firing workers.

Italy’s economy has now been in recession for three years, and in October its unemployment rate rose above 13% for the first time. Young people have been hit especially hard, with the youth unemployment rate for those aged 15–24 rising to over 43%.

The strike coincided with protests against the Jobs Act and the government’s proposed cuts to public spending. The EU has demanded that Italy take action to reduce its budget deficit.

IZA World of Labor author Stefano Scarpetta has written about the balance between protecting workers and encouraging economic growth, observing that "while many workers benefit from a more dynamic labor market through higher real wages and better careers, some displaced workers lose out because of longer spells of unemployment and lower real wages in post-displacement jobs."

Read more here.

Related article:
Employment protection, by Stefano Scarpetta