Italy’s labour unions take aim at Meloni ahead of Labour Day

A last-minute decision by Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni to convene a Council of Ministers meeting on Labour Day while requesting the presence of labour unions to discuss a new labour measure has left stakeholders fuming.

Unions were summoned by the government late on Sunday evening “for a measure they have already decided and will do on Monday morning” without offering any room for negotiation, Maurizio Landini, leader of the Italian General Confederation of Labour (CGIL), said in a statement.

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The measure will include the elimination of the citizenship income, the launch of the inclusion allowance for families with disabled members, minors, people over 60 and the start of the Activation Tool at Work.

“This is not what we have been asking for a long time, but we will evaluate what concretely will be implemented”, Landini said.

Unions are demanding that the government raise wages “very substantially” and carry out a “real” tax reform – which would hit financial and real estate income and reduce taxation on wage labour. They are also urging the government to combat workers’ precarity.

“In Italy, we have a lot of underpaid work, or in some cases, you can even find yourself in the situation of having to pay in order to work. I think this is no longer acceptable”, said Landini, pointing out that “almost 120,000 young people” leave the country.

Elly Schlein, the leader of opposition Democratic Party (S&D), also hit at Meloni, saying the new measures aim to increase job insecurity by promoting temporary contracts.

“We are fed up of seeing heaps of poor, precarious jobs that condemn young people, especially in the south, to unbearable precarious conditions,” Schlein said.

Working on Labour Day?

Landini also criticised the day the government decided to hold a cabinet meeting to approve a package of labour measures, arguing that it was a bad example, ANSA reported.

Meloni labelled Landini’s words as “incomprehensible” and called for “respect” for the government’s work.

“I think it is a good signal for those like us who are privileged to honour with our commitment, on this holiday, the workers and the answers they are waiting for”, said Meloni.

She also suggested that with this logic, if the government should not work on Labour Day, the traditional big concert trade unions stage in Rome’s Piazza San Giovanni on the same day should not occur either.

“I would remind Secretary Landini that many people work on 1 May, from waiters to doctors, the police and technicians who make the concert in Piazza San Giovanni possible,” the premier said, adding that otherwise, the concert should be organised another day.

For Pier Paolo Bombardieri, Secretary of the Italian Labour Union, UIL, Meloni’s move was “an act of propaganda” aiming to claim “space” in the traditional concert.

“There is a problem in the method: the government is convening us tonight at 7 pm on a decree on which it will probably not be possible to make changes,” he said on Sunday.

“As throughout Europe, we need to maintain a level of support for those in need. The poor have doubled, and inequality is increasing”, Bombardieri stressed after explaining that the measures proposed by Meloni are not enough to tackle the issue.

(Federica Pascale |

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