From owner-labor-l@YORKU.CA Sun Dec 2 16:00:07 2001
Date: Sun, 2 Dec 2001 13:53:26 -0500
Sender: Forum on Labor in the Global Economy <LABOR-L@YORKU.CA>
From: Groucho Marx <grok@SPRINT.CA>
Subject: Fwd: General Strike Imminent in Italy

Date: Thu, 29 Nov 2001 07:44:47 EST
Subject: General Strike Imminent in Italyy To:,


Berlusconi government braces for industrial action

Agence France presse, 27 November 2001

ROME—Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's conservative government is preparing to face down industrial action by millions of Italian workers next month after the three major unions called for strike action Tuesday.

Workers have been called on to down tools for two hours each day from December 5–7 over plans to introduce a new framework labour law seen as kowtowing to employers' demands.

The government is aiming in particular to change a long-standing trade union safeguard for sacked workers, Article 18 of the workers' charter.

The provision allows a worker fired from his job to appeal to courts to force employers to take them back. Courts in southern Italy have ruled in favor of workers in a number of cases.

Some 250,000 members of Italy's largest union, the communist-based Italian General Confederation of Labour (CGIL), marched in Rome earlier this month to protest the government's intention to introduce the new law, as well as a split among the major unions.

However, the CGIL, the Catholic centrist Italian Confederation of Workers' Unions CISL and the socialist Italian Labour Union, UIL, met earlier Tuesday to unify their strategy.

The government says its objective is greater flexibility, and have honed in on Article 18 as its main target.

Employers see it as an obstacle, because it allows an employee who feels he has been laid off without reason to appeal to a court to get his job back.

The government announced plans earlier this month to bring in a framework law which would provisionally introduce, for a four year period, the principle of compensation rather than reinstatement for wrongful layoffs.

CGIL secretary general Sergio Cofferati warned the December action was just a “first step” in what is likely to be an increasingly robust campaign.

The unions aim to “convince the government to withdraw this provision concerning article 18 and not to act more arbitrarily,” he said.

His opposite number in UIL, Luigi Angeletti, warned the government that interfering with Article 18 was tantamount to caving in to employers.

Savino Pezzotta, of CSIL, said the unions' decision to begin industrial action had taken account of all the options open to them. “Other initiatives will depend on the response of the government,” he added.

All three leaders denounced what they termed as government collusion with the employers confederation Cofindustria, which supported Berlusconi's campaign in May's general election which saw his conservative coalition rout the centre-left.