Italian water, electricity, gas and waste management service workers have gone on a national strike on 30 June 2021 urging the Italian Government and Parliament to substantially amend Article 177 of the revised Public Procurement Code which enshrines the unfair rule of mandatory outsourcing in public procurement law.
The Article, which obliges utility companies to externalise and subcontract 80% of all their in-house activities including direct employment contracts, is putting thousands of quality jobs at risk causing a soar in precarious work at a moment of dramatic socio-economic crisis for Italian households and communities.
The Article [...] is putting thousands of quality jobs at risk causing a soar in precarious work at a moment of dramatic socio-economic crisis for Italian households and communities.
The rule equally forces utility companies to break up and unbundle their operations causing a service fragmentation and multi-layering that is going to multiply transaction costs, increase user bills, worsen quality and oversight of vital local public services and markedly deteriorate working conditions.
In a joint statement representative trade unions CGIL FP, CISL FIT and Uiltrasporti declared: “this rule is going to have a major economic cost, forcing companies to rapidly break up their service through low-cost tenders. It will also entail major social costs because it will trigger massive job losses and will take workers out of the utilities sector collective bargaining coverage”.
If left unchanged, the mandatory 80% externalisation rule contained in Art. 177 is going to take a heavy toll on the Italian waste services sector, where working conditions and professionalisation of the trade had positively evolved over the past years thanks to workers’ commitment to the service and to the relentless work of trade unions despite very difficult conditions.
Art 177 totally disregards the sacrifice of public utilities workers and makes them bear the brunt of poor, ideologically biased pro-privatisation policies
“Environmental hygiene services workers have played a crucial role during lockdown, protecting public health relentlessly and disposing effectively of the exponential increase in medical waste”, says Massimo Cenciotti, National Secretary in charge of environmental services at PSI affiliated union CGIL FP.
“Thanks to these frontline workers, waste collection has continued uninterrupted, cities have kept clean at all times, and protected from further contamination” he added. “Article 177 totally disregards the sacrifice of public utilities workers and makes them bear the brunt of poor, ideologically biased pro-privatisation policies that will only generate more employment insecurity and socio-economic exclusion. This rule has to be scrapped now”, concluded Cenciotti.
Commenting on the national strike, PSI General Secretary Rosa Pavanelli said: “At a time when the priceless value of access to quality public services is fully appreciated by the public; the sacrifice of frontline workers is under everyone’s eyes; and communities are bringing back their services in-house because of the self-evident failures of privatisation to deliver, the Italian Government and Parliament go in the opposite direction. Art. 177 must be rolled back now”. “Exactly ten years after the referendum that rejected the privatisation of public services, the Draghi government is trying again, as if the will of the Italians - now strengthened by the recognition of the value of public services - were not clear enough” she added.