The large union trades mobilization that took place these days in more than 70 Italian cities in favor of women workers and migrant workers, builds on the negative effect that this long economic crisis has had and is having on employment in general not only in Italy but also, albeit to a lesser extent, abroad. Over the past 8 years, the unemployment rate of foreigners has reached 17% and, therefore, there are many third-country nationals who have lost their jobs and have been unable to find a new one within the period provided by law (one year) in order to renew the residence permit in our country. As a result, some of them have to leave in search of work abroad, but most of them run the risk of ending up in the trap of illegal work. It is very complicated to get out of this condition, in which fundamental civil and labor rights are erased, resulting in family breakdown.
We, women from the CISL syndicate – given that half of the about 5 million foreign residents in Italy are women, cannot keep silent about this situation. Many families and many immigrant women, co-protagonists of a process that is likely to undermine the economic and social stability of those who have come to Italy and have been working hard over the years, with great sacrifice, to build a regular path of integration. Thus, on the one hand, we have to intervene with targeted and well-organized projects for people who flee from wars and conflicts, which is becoming increasingly difficult due to the rise of new nationalisms and populisms in the single European States, confirming the existence of a continent, like ours, held together only from an economic and financial points of view – the vote on Brexit in Britain is an example of it -, on the other hand, we must not forget all those stories that in Italy represent a good integration and inclusion practices model.
About 400.000 residence permits for work reasons have not been renewed from 2011 to date, and this is a problem that hinders these men and women’s possibility to keep working legally. To address this, in 2012, the union trade had obtained an extension of the 6-month residence permit while awaiting employment from 6 months to a year, with a provision for a further renewal “throughout the duration of the provision of support to income received by a foreign worker, in case it is longer” and when there is a “minimum annual income from legitimate sources, which is not inferior to the annual social allowance”. The Ministry of Interior has made these features known to the Police Headquarters, but they have kept randomly applying the existent laws and, in many cases, even a restrictive interpretation of this law, almost disregarding it.
That is why trade unions, after several attempts to open a dialogue with the competent ministries, have prepared throughout the country, starting with individual prefectural districts, not only to urge the Prefects, inviting the headquarters to a more uniform and correct interpretation of the rule, but also to request the extension of the duration of the residence permit while awaiting employment to at least 24 months and to review the position of those workers and immigrant workers who have already lost work and residence and are likely to end up into illegal economy, becoming potential victims of exploitation, trafficking and forced labor. It is not about asking rights for their own sake, but about preserving what has been built up over time in the name of legality, the ground where rights and duties, the cornerstones of all civil and democratic society, as the CISL syndicate pointed out also on the occasion of recent clashes in Sesto Fiorentino, during security checks of some companies run by Chinese entrepreneurs.