The Global State of Workers' Rights - Italy
|Publication Date||31 August 2010|
|Cite as||Freedom House, The Global State of Workers' Rights - Italy, 31 August 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4d4fc7fb28.html [accessed 13 March 2014]|
Italians are free to form trade unions with little interference from the government. About 35 percent of the workforce is unionized. The constitution recognizes the right to strike, and legal changes in 1990 clarified what essential services must be maintained during a work stoppage. The law takes a broad view of the right to strike, though the essential-services category was expanded in 2000 to include certain self-employed professionals, such as lawyers, doctors, and truck drivers. Workers in a variety of sectors frequently engage in strikes in practice.
There are laws in place to protect workers from dismissal in retaliation for joining unions or engaging in strikes and other labor actions. Actions that are considered illegal antiunion behavior in Italy include dismissing workers who are on strike, hiring replacement workers, bypassing unions and bargaining directly with workers, and interfering with a union's efforts to organize and promote its views. There are no government-sponsored unions in the country.
Unions are free to bargain collectively with employers, and the agreements are honored in practice. According to the International Labour Organization, collective agreements in the workplace are deemed to be of "considerable importance," and almost all employees except those employed in very small businesses are covered by such agreements.