The (Failed) Reform of Article 18

in Italian Politics
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On Friday, 17 August 2001, right in the middle of the summer break,

while awaiting the first provisions of the newly established second

Berlusconi government, the issue of dismissals hit the headlines once

again. During his speech at the San Domenico Abbey in Sora, Antonio

Fazio, governor of the Bank of Italy, called for “greater freedom for

companies to dismiss their employees.” This request was immediately

met by positive reactions among entrepreneurs and negative ones

among unions. According to the Confederation of Italian Industry

(Confindustria), there was a need to “focus attention on the problem

of competitiveness and, as a consequence, on job flexibility.” Presenting

an opposing view, Savino Pezzotta, secretary general of the CISL

union confederation, said: “The problem is not one of laying people

off, but of taking them on.” Luigi Angeletti, general secretary of the

UIL union confederation, labeled as “false” the argument that in Italy

it is difficult to fire people. Finally, Gian Paolo Patta, secretary of the

CGIL union confederation, said: “Fazio now sounds like Berlusconi

and panders to Confindustria.” Pandering to the industrialists’ needs

was something that the CGIL had been accusing the government of

since the convention held in Parma in April 2001, when Silvio Berlusconi

pointed out the similarity between his electoral program and the

one presented by the entrepreneurs.