07 aprile 2012

Surrender, Italian Style

Let us now un-praise famous men. Last week, we congratulated Prime Minister Mario Monti for standing up to Italy's powerful trade unions and pushing ahead with a reform of his country's notoriously restrictive and anticompetitive labor laws. In a fit of temporary euro insanity, we even expressed the hope that Mr. Monti might be a leader in the mold of Margaret Thatcher, willing to stand up to modern-day Arthur Scargills.

But if Mr. Monti's recent cave-in to the left side of his political coalition is anything to go by, the better U.K. analogy may be to Ted Heath, Mrs. Thatcher's hapless Tory predecessor. The reform Mr. Monti was originally proposing was a relatively modest change to Article 18, which all but prohibits firms with more than 15 employees from firing workers. Mr. Monti wanted to replace the system of guaranteed employment with severance guarantees for workers dismissed for "economic reasons."

Such a change may seem like small beer for a country with Italy's economic problems. But at least it promised to move in the right direction, and do so in the teeth of massive resistance. Italy's official unemployment rate of 9.3%—roughly the EU average—masks an employment rate of only 56.9%, showing how many potential workers are permanently locked out of Italy's labor market. Compare Italy's numbers with Germany's 72.8%, or even Portugal's 64.5%. (The U.S. employment figure, 66.8%, is also nothing to brag about.)

Even this modest reform was too much for Italy's unions and their political allies. On Wednesday, a final version of the bill was unveiled giving judges greater leeway in determining whether companies were justified in laying off a worker. Another measure in the legislation adds a 1.4% tax on short-term employment contracts, which is one of the ways Italian employers get around the onerous rules governing full-time workers.

Optimists in Italy—yes, there are some—are saying that a little reform is better than none at all. Maybe. But Mr. Monti was brought in as Prime Minister to retrieve his country from the edge of a Greek abyss. The labor bill is a surrender to those who are bringing it there.

Source: WSJ

2 commenti:

S. Kahani ha detto...

Come rosicano gli ebrei amici di Monti, quanto gli dà fastidio vedere che in Italia sappiamo ancora difendere i diritti dei Lavoratori!


Il Mango ha detto...

Non avete ancora capito nel vostro modno medievale che siamo nel 21esimo secolo non all'inizio del 900. Tutte le regole sono cambiate. Se l'Italia vuoel ridiventare una potenza economica, e cosi dare lavoro a tutti bisogna essere piu' flessibile.
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