Europe has reached agreement on the minimum wage directive. Susy Matrisciano, M5S president of the Senate Labor Commission, what is your assessment?
“A precise signal arrives from the EU. Since 2013, the M5S has been carrying out a battle to introduce the minimum wage also in Italy, after Germany, Greece and Spain, which have even increased it to face the economic crisis and the record inflationary spiral. We have anticipated the times, providing concrete proposals and solutions as evidenced by the start of the process in the Labor Committee of the Senate, which I chair, on the bill of the M5S, signed by Nunzia Catalfo, of which I am the second signatory and rapporteur. The proposal has been on the table for some time. Now that Europe is asking us, there are no more excuses. We have to close by July if we want to pass the law by the legislature. Politics has a duty to show seriousness ”.
The directive sets the criteria, not the obligation. How do you think you will be able to get the law on the minimum wage approved given the opposition of part of the trade union (see CISL) and companies, as well as the right?
“We cannot bury the dust under the carpet, nor can we confine the issue to the electoral debate. You cannot play on the skin of the workers. it is true the directive sets criteria, but collective bargaining, on which our system of industrial relations is based, pays for an original sin: Article 39 of the Constitution speaks of the erga omnes effectiveness of collective agreements, but the rule has remained unfulfilled so far . With the result that we have national collective bargaining agreements which, while governing the rules of the game, do not oblige employers to apply them. The National Collective Labor Agreement for private security personnel provides for a minimum gross hourly wage of € 4.60 gross per hour. Does it seem dignified, proportionate and sufficient to ensure a dignified life for those who work? Yet it is foreseen by the collective agreement “.
The minimum wage should not be done by law because “against our cultural history of industrial relations”, said Minister Renato Brunetta.
“If we want to analyze the issue in point of law, I reiterate the crux of the erga omnes effectiveness of the ccnl, deriving from the failure to implement Article 39 of the Constitution. To Brunetta I say: all of Europe is raising wages, because inflation bites. Today, Italian ‘consumers’ will take to the streets all over Italy to ask the government to intervene because they are no longer able to shop because everything has increased. We can’t turn away. The risk of social tensions is just around the corner “.
Labor Minister Andrea Orlando has made a proposal for a minimum wage. But it does not indicate a minimum hourly wage threshold as does the Catalfo bill. What do you think?
“The Orlando proposal incorporates our bill and we can only be satisfied with this. We think that the “wage dignity threshold”, that is the floor that serves to prevent wages from sinking below the poverty level, is necessary when the comparatively more representative national collective labor agreements do not reach us with the minimum wage. We want to strengthen bargaining not to weaken it “.
Confindustria insists on asking for the tax wedge to be cut to raise wages.
“I absolutely agree. Minimum wage, de-taxation of contract renewals and cutting the tax wedge, in my opinion, are sides of the same coin. The cost of labor in Italy is among the highest in Europe, we need to intervene. The Conte II government has already done so in 2020. The M5S bill on the minimum wage also includes the de-taxation of increases in contract renewals, to encourage collective bargaining. In Italy there are hundreds of CCNL expired, we are talking about 7 million workers involved “.
How do you explain so much resentment towards citizenship income?
“I can’t explain it because I honestly don’t understand it, especially from those who have lived on politics for years…. Citizenship income was providential during the pandemic. Everyone knows this, just as they know perfectly well that within the audience of beneficiaries there are about 700,000 minors and about 200,000 disabled people. About 46% of income earners, then, are poor workers, that is, while working they receive a wage below the relative poverty line “.
The labor market continues to be characterized by precarious contracts. Could reinstating the Dignity decree turn the tide?
“Absolutely yes. Such a sustained increase in forward contracts had not been recorded for 45 years, says Istat. We need to restore the original structure of the Dignity decree and go further by looking at the Spanish model to strengthen it. The state of emergency has been over for months, the exemptions provided for in the pandemic no longer have a reason to exist. Then I believe that a reflection on a reduction of the different types of existing contracts, as well as an intervention on internships and traineeships, must be done “.
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