Two deaths in two days, due to cold and hardship, “normal” citizens. In Pesaro (Marche region), a graduate man over 40 without work and without a place where to live. In Milan, Lombardy region, in the rich north of Italy, an unemployed who was almost fifty and who had been living for some time in a car, only a few steps away from the parish of St Peter Martyr which received extra-European asylum seekers. During the same hours Eurostat divulged research data on employment in the 28 Member States of the European Union. In terms of primacy due to horror in civil rights, Italy is the second last, overdone only by Greece. Yet, “Italy is a republic founded on work”, according to the article 1 of the Constitution, although many attempts have been made to change it. For example Bonino’s proposal. It would be certainly more coherent if it were abolished. Why is a job not a right but a privilege in Italy? Employment has no dignity, and it has been constantly decreasing in the last twenty years, since when the concept of “flexibility” as a synonym of precariousness was introduced. And precariousness means exploitation.
There are 46 types of work contracts, from subcontracts to para-subcontracts, and from autonomous work to special relations. But if we look closer at the different types of open-ended subcontracts, they all consist in limiting the rights and the dignity of the worker. This is what experts say. More fatigue, insecurity, lower wages. “More contracts does not mean more work,” Tito Boeri writes www.lavoce.info on, the site of economy experts founded by the President of the National Institute of social security together with Pietro Garibaldi in 2002.
Since always, in fact, Boeri supports a reform of the labor market which reconciles the rightful guarantees of the worker with the needs of production: a single open-ended contract with safeguards increasing with a guaranteed minimum wage. For the pension reform in 2016, Boeri proposes the introduction of a minimum income for workers who are over 55, adjusted on the basis of the number of components of the family nucleus.
Reality today has the colors of a tragedy. Undeclared work grows. During the first six months of 2015, the Italian Revenue Guard Corpses have discovered more than 18,000 illegal workers and irregularities have been brought to light in more than 40,000 companies, which is around 60 percent of the companies which have been controlled, with infringements concerning working time and security, wages, salaries and missed contributions payment. Around 2 million workers “unknown” to the competent authorities, with a black economy of about 42 billion euros and 25 billion of evaded taxes and contributions. There is also black “legalized” work, of the many reports on self-employment collaboration contracts, project contracts and so on, registered in the so-called separate management, all of which mask subordinate work relations. There is, in short, a “grey” work, formally regularized but essentially illegal. Italy, then, is a Republic – so to say – founded on exploited or denied work. Whereas for some other people it was given as a gift. There are people who take on managerial roles with super salaries, which are improperly classified as work typologies, because they rather belong to the genre of gifts, not only to that of privileges.
It is a slap in the face of the civilization of rights. A theft of the soul, as it was wittily remarked by Roberto Benigni. Emilia Romagna region leads the chart of subordinate employees who are actually submerged. Emilia Romagna region is followed by Lombardy and Tuscany. Lazio region is fourth. Law does not penalize these abuses that sometimes resemble personal violence properly, that is severely, because these are systematic attacks on the dignity of working people. The law n.248 of 2006, introduced a fine between 1,500 and 12,000 euros, with an increase of 150 euros for every day of irregular work.
The Jobs Act (Law n. 183, 2014) has not improved this situation. “The expression ”open-ended” is misleading. The truth is that the only open-ended thing is the moment when your company is forced to say thanks, but this is it, we abandon you”, on the edge of the unemployment-ravine, according to Edoardo Landucci, 30, an aerospace engineer. In four months he has lost his job for three times. The law that in the case of dismissal without a justified objective reason, the company must give a miserable monetary allowance, equal to two months’ salary for every year of work, up to a maximum of six months, even for periods exceeding three years. Then there was the deal, for certain shady entrepreneurs incentives to recruitment for an indefinite period of time introduced by the law of stability in 2015, with an 100 percent exemption, up to 8,060 euros, for a three-year period, of the INPS contributions paid by employers. In fact, if the most “honest” entrepreneurs have used this benefit to regularize the position of its employees with a significant tax relief, there are also those who have, with fictitious open-ended contracts where, after regular bank transfer of the salary as of the contract, (over) half of the salary were given – and continue to be given – back cash, i.e., in black. Employers earn thus even more on their employees with this reform, which is far from defending any rights.
The next step after the Jobs Act would be the elimination of other forms of uneasy relations or at least their limitation to objective situations of need for flexibility, such as in the case of seasonal jobs. But there is no talk about it. And we talk little also about the victims at work and of work, including the victims of lack of work.