Politics and Ideology in the Italian Workers' Movement: Union Development and the Changing Role of the Catholic and Communist Subcultures in Postwar Italy

By Gino Bedani | Go to book overview

16
The Effects of the Sindacato's New Centralised
Role

A New Bargaining Hierarchy Established

In the period that runs from the 1960s to the mid-1970s, the three-yearly national contracts negotiated between the employers and the category federations became established as the focal point of industrial bargaining. During the cycle of intense protest between 1968 and 1972, plant bargaining was also placed on a secure footing. These two negotiating levels would remain central features of Italian bargaining practice. As the economy moved into recession between 1974 and 1976, interconfederate bargaining, that is, bargaining between the Confindustria and the Cgil-Cisl-Uil federation, returned to a position of prime importance. A major reason for this was that both employers and unions were anxious, at a time of crisis, to stabilise the situation as much as possible. Crucial in this was the 1975 agreement over the scala mobile, already discussed in chapter 15. The agreement subsequently reached in 1977 on the reduction of labour costs was another landmark in establishing the importance of this level of bargaining. By the mid-to-late 1970s, therefore, a centralised level of national bargaining between the employers' organizations and the union confederations was established, with significant effects on negotiations at lower levels.

There were numerous ways in which interconfederate bargaining affected lower-level negotiations. Guidelines were produced on holiday working, shift work and other matters, which the national negotiators for each category were then obliged to follow. Also fixed at this level, but this time with government involvement, was the proportion of wages covered by automatic increases in the scala mobile. Since the 1975 agreement set this cover at something like 80 per cent of wages, some room for bargaining at the lower levels remained. But the automatic increases

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