Last Updated: Monday, 19 February 2018, 12:46 GMT

The Global State of Workers' Rights - Italy

Publisher Freedom House
Publication Date 31 August 2010
Cite as Freedom House, The Global State of Workers' Rights - Italy, 31 August 2010, available at: [accessed 19 February 2018]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.


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.

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