The recent rejection of the National Council for Economy and Labor (CNEL) regarding the establishment of a minimum salary in Italy it has turned the spotlight on how to tackle the problem of precarious work. The CNEL reiterated that the collective bargaining, as foreseen by the Constitution, represents the most fertile ground for discussing and adapting minimum wages. The institute maintains that the issue is not so much the percentage of pay that should be decided by this negotiation, but rather spreading the best negotiation practices among all workers.
Focusing on this aspect is more urgent than interventions on the final effects, according to the CNEL. The institute proposes a national action plan, aligned with the European directive on adequate wages, to support an orderly and harmonious development of the collective bargaining system. This plan should be the cornerstone of the fight against low wages and precarious work.
The CNEL underlines that collective bargaining and the contractual minimum wage are central, rejecting the idea of a legal minimum wage imposed from above. To make the reduction of starvation wages and precarious work effective, it is necessary to make the social partners responsible.
A key addition to the proposal put forward by CNEL could be the obligation imposed on intermediate bodies to keep expiring collective agreements updated, including minimum wages. State intervention should be reserved exclusively for cases in which the social partners do not respect their commitments in renewing expired collective agreements, in full compliance with the principle of subsidiarity. This would ensure effective supervision of salary negotiations without compromising the flexibility and accountability of the parties involved.
In short, we could consider the idea of pushing the unions to maintain a more constant pace in the updates contractual. A bit like lending a hand to someone who seems to have lost their agenda. But, of course, I hope that a solution can be found without having to resort to overly invasive interventions.
It is essential, in this scenario, to further underline that we cannot allow the judiciary to take the place of collective bargaining. The latter represents the key element for the salary negotiation and to ensure adequate working conditions. Direct intervention by the judiciary would risk distorting the already delicate balance that should characterize bargaining between employers and workers as well as increasing litigation.
In conclusion, as we deal with the challenges of precarious work, we must preserve and strengthen the role of collective bargaining. Only in this way can we hope to develop effective and sustainable solutions, without giving in to the temptation of judicial solutions that could compromise the flexibility and dynamism of the Italian labor market.
In this world that today should deal with the epochal change that we will witness with the advent of new technologies and its impact on the world of work, the minimum wage should be like a tailor-made suit, not one off the rack. But apparently certain politics are still stuck in the past. Let’s hope someone kicks the system and takes us into the future.