Italy is facing a strike in the education sector


The Italian trade unions, among them the three ETUCE member organisations, oppose their government's current plans to reduce education workers' rights and to increase their workload without a corresponding wage increase. Apparently, the proposed amendments are to be made entirely without the trade unions being involved. The last collective agreement in Italian education expired in 2009. Instead of extending it, the Italian government had submitted to the Parliament a draft law to reform the education staff's working conditions. Should the government successfully get away with this proposal, the teachers would be affected in particular. 

For months, the trade unions who signed the previous agreement have jointly opposed the one-sided attempt to modify the collective agreement by law. In November 2014, 300.000 signatures were collected to stop a first draft reform plan. Nonetheless, following the European Court of Justice's decision in November 2014 on a fundamental reform of the employment relationship of teachers with precarious contracts, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi decided to submit again a draft law foreseeing the recruitment of precarious workers. In response, the trade unions have organized  joint protest actions in all major Italian towns for all education staff which will lead to  a strike on 5 May 2015.

The draft law contains a reform implying major changes which some of them have caused a great deal of concern and provoked the strike. Precarious workers who have been working for years and acquired proper qualifications shall be laid off.  Their contracts should not be renewed to avoid the risk of a court conviction. The unions demand that this provision will be removed from the draft text and replaced by a long-standing recruitment plan. The draft text would also give enormous power to school managers who could then decide everything from evaluation to didactics, from salary to teachers' recruitment ignoring cultural pluralism and teaching freedom as core values of schools' autonomy.

Furthermore, working conditions shall be regulated without collective agreement. This suggestion appears to be unacceptable for teachers and school staff who are responsible for a very burdensome professional task. Rightly, the unions want the draft text to be radically modified and negotiations for a new and really innovative collective agreement to start. Their actions are targeted to  improve the quality of teaching and to  enhance the value of the work performed by school staff.

"ETUCE strongly supports the demands of its Italian member organisations.", says ETUCE European Director Martin Rømer. "The eventual termination of employment of all those teachers who have been exploited for years and have finally hoped for some fairness and job security after the European Court of Justice's decision, is a slap in their face. Quite apart from this, all education staff deserves the correct regulation of their working conditions through a negotiated collective agreement. It is about time, that the Italian government remembers the concept of an effective social dialogue and the positive achievements that it can bring to the sector. The Italian education social partners should immediately gather around the negotiation table to work together on solutions which will lead to better quality in the Italian education system."