Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Italy's Unions Watch Berlusconi Closely Government Actions Stir Up Controversy

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Italy's Unions Watch Berlusconi Closely Government Actions Stir Up Controversy

Article excerpt

ITALY'S three major trade unions are watching the policies of the country's new pro-business government with close attention, particularly Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's promise to create 1 million new jobs.

Already Mr. Berlusconi's right-wing government has stirred up controversy by unblocking public-works projects halted after the outbreak of the Tangentopoli scandal. The scandal revealed widespread payments of kickbacks to local and national politicians in return for construction contracts.

Berlusconi's new decree set aside a law of the preceding administration that would have required companies to reveal their financial dealings to prevent such corruption. The decision was sharply criticized by the left-wing opposition.

"With my law, public contracts had to be awarded to the lowest bidder who presented a bank or insurance company guarantee that assured the work would come to a good end," former Public Works Minister Francesco Merloni told La Repubblica newspaper on May 29. "After the Berlusconi government's measure, there are no longer any limits or constraints on the changes during the course of work, which have always been one of the principal means of increasing a project's costs.... It's a victory for the corporations. The building corporations and their lobbies are the ones that asked the government to take away all the constraints."

The unions are worried that, in order to pave the way toward the 1 million jobs that Berlusconi promised while campaigning earlier this year, the government will reduce the rights of workers, making them easier to fire. Experts say if Berlusconi's government is to fulfill the pledge, it has no choice but to create large numbers of low-level positions.

"The only thing that is really open to them is the deregulation of the market," says Sebastiano Brusco, a professor of economy and industrial policy at the University of Modena. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.