The "Jobs Act": the end of labour rights in Italy

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The so-called Jobs Act, passed by the Renzi government in May and December 2014, can easily be described as Italy’s most important labour reform in recent years. In a speech before parliament in December, the Italian prime minister pointed out that the reform would put an end to what he called the “Apartheid” between the precarious and the “stable” labour force.

The reality of things looks very different though. By generalising the insecure conditions it claims to overcome, the Jobs Act furthers and accelerates a process of increasing labour market flexibilisation that started almost twenty years ago. In an attack on the entire proletariat living in Italy, the government is abolishing all the rights that the workers’ movement has fought for for decades.

This measure takes up the social and economic demands put forward by the ECB. In the course of the Eurozone crisis, the latter had to launch expansive monetary interventions in order to stabilise the markets and prevent the states in debt from defaulting. In exchange, it requested the respective governments to implement restrictive welfare and social policies.

In Italy, a letter by the ECB to Berlusconi’s government on August 5th 2011 sped up the ongoing institutional crisis and brought Mario Monti’s technical government into office. The latter was then charged with a list of tough targets, such as reaching a balanced budget until 2013, cutting public spending and most importantly, passing pension and labour reforms.

However, both Monti and the following government of Enrico Letta did not manage to meet but partly the requests of European capital. The latest government of Matteo Renzi finally turned out to be a reliable ally of European capitalists, ready to push their agenda. The influential circles of the country agreed on young and smart Renzi to be the one to break the bottleneck and bring new speed into the restructuring of the Italian labour market that had been prepared in the years before.

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