Dipartimento di Studi
del Lavoro e del Welfare
UNIVERSITÀ DEGLI STUDI DI MILANO
The Emergence and Evolution
of Social Pacts in Italy
Sabrina Colombo and Marino Regini
DIPARTIMENTO DI STUDI DEL LAVORO E DEL WELFARE
Via Conservatorio, 7 – 20122 Milano
Tel. +39.02.503.21163/4/6/8 Fax +39.02
The Emergence and Evolution of Social Pacts in Italy *
Sabrina Colombo and Marino Regini – University of Milan
DSLW WP 2/2009
The aim of this paper is to show the factors that affected the emergence and the evolution
of concertation in Italy. The paper consists of two parts. In the first part the focus is mainly
on actors’ strategies that lead them to signing social pacts. The paper describes the social
pacts emergence, taking into account not only the political and economic situation at the
time of a pact’s signature, but also the features of the actors involved and the interactions
between them, before, during and after the negotiation. In the second part the paper
analyses the evolution of social pacts by focusing on the mechanisms of
institutionalisation. By mechanisms of institutionalisation we mean the processes that lead
to a stable and recurrent concertation as a policy–making device. More specifically, we
mean the ability of social pacts to serve socio-economic needs, to produce satisfactory
outcomes for the actors and to create inter- and intra- organisational ties and networks. In
this section the paper then describes the main outcomes generated by the tripartite
agreements: on the one hand, we consider objective indicators of socio-economic
performance throughout the period in which these agreements have produced effects; on
the other, we examine the institutional outcomes, namely the degree of structuring and
coordination in intra- and inter-organizational relations. Finally we consider the role of
governments in concertation. In spite of the success that social pacts in Italy had in the
1990s, it is still not clear to what extent actors are willing to regard concertation as a now
institutionalized fact, one not to be called into question whenever the economic situation or
power relations change. Despite the importance of developments in the 1990s,
relationships between employers, unions and the state in Italy are still a long way from
reaching a shared view of national competitiveness which gives rise to a joint effort for the
full development of the economy and of human resources.
* This paper is the Italian country-report of the research project ‘New modes of
governance. The Emergence and Evolution of Social Pacts’. It is a project co-funded by
the European Commission within the Sixth Framework Programme (2002-2006) and
coordinated by Sabina Avdagic (University of Sussex), Martin Rhodes (University of
Denver) and Jelle Visser (University of Amsterdam). It is a preliminary draft. A revised
version will be published in a book titled “Social Pacts in Europe: Emergence, Evolution
DSLW Working Papers are available at http://www.dsl.unimi.it/dslwtemp/ita/index.php
DSLW WP 2/2009
This chapter aims to examine the main tripartite agreements signed at national level since
the end of the 1970s. Prior to that date, the conditions did not exist in Italy for concertation
to be feasible.
Although, in fact, Italy’s economic situation in the mid- and late-1960s– with a worrying
increase in inflation – required intervention in incomes policy, the social partners had not
developed structures and strategies suitable for a process of tripartite negotiation.
On the one hand, until the mid-1970s the government was able to curb inflation by means
of unilateral monetary and fiscal measures. On the other, during the 1960s, the trade-union
confederations had little desire, nor had they ability, to build consensus on wage restraint,
not least because of their low levels of workplace representation. Although from the first
half of the 1970s onwards the unions were able to increase their memberships, their
strategy of action was still to exert external influence on decision-making processes by
means of collective mobilization. As we shall see, it was only at the end of the 1970s that
the conditions arose for concerted agreements on economic policy to become possible.
The analysis that follows will therefore deal with laws negotiated between the government
and the social partners in the period 1977-79. Then discussed will be social pacts
concluded subsequently to that initial period of concertation, namely: the agreement of
1983 and its continuation in the partly failed pact of 1984; the agreement of July 1992 and
its continuation in the agreement of July 1993 (considered a turning point in the process of
institutionalization of Italian industrial relations); the reform of the pensions system
negotiated with the social partners in May 1995; the ‘Pact for Employment’ of September
1996; the ‘Christmas Pact’ of 1998; the ‘Pact for Italy’ of July 2002 and the “Pact for
welfare” of 2007 (see Table 1, Annexes). The 1990s clearly stand out as the peak period of
social pacting in Italy, preceded by a long phase of difficult concertation and followed by
an equally long period in which social pacts were either openly called into question or
turned into purely political instruments of consensus among the social partners, divisions
within them, legitimation of government action and policies.
As we will show, social pacts in Italy were reached in situations featuring:
a) rather poor economic conditions: high inflation and state deficit up to 1993, high
unemployment and declining competitiveness afterwards; a feeling of national
economic emergency, however, was stronger and more widely shared during
negotiations leading to the 1992 and the 1993 pacts;
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b) weak governments: either unstable coalitions or technocratic, i.e. non-electorally
legitimated, cabinets; the exceptions being the 1983-4 and the 2002 pacts, which,
however, were not signed by the major trade union confederation;
c) intermediate union centralization and moderately strong unions: actually, centralization
(and insulation from rank-and-file pressures) was rather high up to 1993, while since
then unitary works councils were established, decentralized bargaining was given an
official role and consultations or referenda on pacts were often used; also, union
density steadily declined from 49% in 1977 to 33 % in 2005, but unions have remained
moderately strong in comparative perspective.
The data used to analyse the origin and evolution of social pacts have been drawn from
various sources. As well as a few interviews with the main actors involved in the
negotiations on these pacts 1 , the information sources used were the following:
- articles published, in the various periods considered, by newspapers and periodicals
which devote substantial space to industrial relations;
- the reconstructions of events and research findings in publications by the best-known
experts on industrial relations;
- data collected by the main national statistical offices.
The chapter consists of two parts. The first will outline the most significant aspects
concerning the emergence of the social pacts considered (the structural drivers of change
and the negotiation process); the second will analyse their evolution, and in particular their
degree of institutionalisation focusing on the most relevant mechanisms and paths. A short
conclusion will follow.
2. The Emergence of Social Pacts
2.1 Drivers of pacts in different periods
As highlighted in the introduction, in Italy concertation started at the end of ‘70s. The first
experiences (bargained laws in the late 1970s and the 1983-1984 tripartite pacts) were
driven by three structural factors: economic crisis, weak governments and social partners’
1 Int. 1: Stefano Patriarca - Cgil; Int.2: Beniamino Lapadula - Cgil; Int. 3: Stefano Parisi - Confindustria; Int.
4: Paolo Reboani - Government (Ministry of Labour).
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fragmentation. Interest organisations were characterized by rather high centralization,
proximity to political parties and internal divisions.
Between the mid-1970s and the 1980s the economic crisis in Italy generated high rates of
inflation and rising unemployment (see Table 2, Annexes). Italy’s entry into the European
Monetary System and inflationary pressures obliged governments to adopt measures
contrary to those which it had imposed unilaterally (monetary and fiscal policies) in
previous years (Salvati, 2001). It became increasingly necessary to negotiate economic
policy measures – as regards incomes policy especially – with the social partners.
Until the end of 1970s Italian governments were formed by unstable majorities consisting
mainly of ‘centre-left-oriented’ party coalitions with strong affiliations to the unions. In the
early 1980s the political situation changed and there ensued a phase of much more stable
and powerful coalition government. This also changed the context for concertation.
Tripartite negotiation was advocated by the stronger and more stable governments and by
Cisl and Uil. Opinions differed among the three unions, especially because of their diverse
affiliations with the political parties. The main factors responsible for internal tensions,
however, were the egalitarian wage strategy pursued by the three largest union
confederations, and the lack of formal and clear rules on firm-level workers’
Besides the so-called ‘rally of the forty thousand’ 2 , the main reaction against the egalitarian
line of the union confederations arose in the public sector, whereas in the private sector the
effect of egalitarian wage increases was partially off-set by bonuses and premia for skilled
workers. At the end of the 1970s several so-called ‘autonomous unions’ were formed in the
air transport, banking, insurance, health care and school sectors, largely as a response to
the three confederations’ egalitarian strategy. During the 1980s this rank-and-file
movement became more stable, giving rise to new confederations 3 (Baccaro and Locke,
The other factor responsible for tensions internally to the unions was the lack of proper
mechanisms linking the grass-roots level with that of the national confederations. In 1970
the Workers’ Statute established a new form of workplace union representation (RSA), but
it did not lay down rules on the election of delegates and their competences. A
complementary form of representation, the ‘Factory Councils’ (Consigli di fabbrica),
A demonstration by middle managers and white collars in 1980 in protest against the strategies pursued by
the union confederations.
Cisal, Cisas, Confail, Confisas, the most important of which was the radical Cobas (Comitati di base)
established by previous members of Cgil.
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appeared at the beginning of the 1970s and became the most widespread form of
workplace representation until the early 1990s. The factory councils consisted of both
union members and non-members elected by the workforce. The ‘federative pact’ signed
by the three union confederations in 1972 recognized the factory councils as workplace-
based institutions representing both workers and unions, but it did not change the lack of
coordination between the central and the plant levels. In the mid-‘80s union density started
to decline (see Table 4, Annexes)
Also the largest employers’ association (Confindustria) was internally fragmented during
the 1970s and 1980s. Although its actions and strategies were formally highly centralized,
difficulties of coordination arose at the local and individual firm levels. The industrial
relations strategy of Confindustria was conditioned by the difficulty of defining common
positions. The 1970s saw a significant decrease in associational density: while there was an
increase in Confindustria membership among firms with more than 100 employees, small
firms (especially the smallest) left the confederation in large numbers (Maraffi, 1994).
In the early 1990s, Italy’s economic situation was characterized by: high rates of
unemployment; high real wages unmatched by parallel increases in productivity; public
spending and public debt grown out of hand; and difficulties met by Italian on international
markets. In 1991 exports declined by 2.1 percent (Mascini, 2000; see also Table 2,
Annexes). In February 1992 was signed in Maastricht the European treaty which increased
the pressure on Italy to reduce its public deficit and inflation rate. This economic
emergency lasted until March 1998, when the European Commission officially announced
that Italy had fulfilled the conditions necessary for adoption of the single currency (Lavoro
e informazione, 1998).
In the same period, the political system grew increasingly unstable and a series of so-called
‘technocratic’ governments were installed when several political and economic leaders
were indicted for corruption as a result of Mani Pulite (Clean Hands) investigations. The
‘technocratic’ governments did not have a parliamentary base and consequently needed the
social partners not only to tackle the economic crisis but also to gain legitimation. These
governments negotiated two of the most important social pacts (Pacts of July 1992 and
The political situation changed in 1994 with the first elections held on the basis of the new
electoral system. The elections were won by a centre-right coalition, and the businessman
Silvio Berlusconi took over as prime minister. The Berlusconi government was unstable
and fragmented: there was little in common among the parties making up the government
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coalition, which moreover did not have a majority in the Senate. Berlusconi tried to
implement unilaterally some economic policies, but due to the weak majority and the
social conflict generated by the government intentions, he resigned on December. There
was another technocratic government with Lamberto Dini as prime minister. This
government negotiated with social partners the pension reform.
The elections of April 1996 were won by a centre-left coalition headed by Romano Prodi,
with a weak parliamentary majority because it depended on the support of the Communist
Reconstruction Party in the Chamber of Deputies. The government sought the dialogue
with the social partners and they signed in September 1996 the “Pact for Empolyment” in
order to face both the economic emergency (high unemployment and Maastricht
parameters) and the parliamentary weakness.
However, in September 1998 the leader of the Communist Reconstruction Party harshly
criticised the budget law enacted by the government, and in October parliament voted a
motion of no confidence in Prodi. The new centre-left government was headed by
Massimo D’Alema. The government was weak, but the end of the Maastricht pressure–
given that Italy, as we said, fulfilled the parameters – influenced the new social pact (the
so-called “Christmas pact”), a largely symbolic pact, without relevant reforms but only
commitments towards the continuation of social dialogue.
Thus the political and economic situation during the 1990s was not different from the
1980s, but the social partners started a period of stronger organisational unity. In the case
of the unions, the gap between the national level and the firm level had continued to widen
(difficulty of maintaining control over firm-level bargaining, which increasingly less
performed its role of supplementing the national level). But also Confindustria needed to
control the outcomes of the various negotiating levels in order to prevent excessive
fragmentation of business strategies from harming the competitiveness of Italian firms. The
Pact of July 1993 was a turning point for social partners' organisational unity .
Following the 1993 pact, the unions and the employers’ associations signed a bilateral
agreement on works’ councils (RSU) in December 1993, and then in early 1994 for the
public sector. The structure and action of the RSU thus acquired greater formalization and
coherence. The 1994 RSU elections demonstrated that the relationship between the union
confederations and the rank-and-file had been revitalized: the former obtained the large
majority of votes and representatives, many of whom had no previous experience as union
delegates (in Milan, around 5000 inexperienced delegates were elected) (Regalia and
Regini, 1998; see also Table 5, Annexes).
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Discussion now resumed on trade-union unity. Threatening trade-union unity were
divergences among the confederations on their relationships with the political parties 4 . The
majoritarian electoral system had given rise to new coalitions, and there was seeming
rapprochement between Cgil and the centre-left parties. However, the three confederal
secretaries approved a document which set out the principles on which trade-union
autonomy should be based, citing the July 1993 agreement as the framework (Mascini,
2000). In May 1997, Cgil approved a document which proposed the creation of an unitary
trade union. The proposal was accepted by Cisl as well (Molina Romo, 2004) 5 .
Tension and fragmentation decreased among the employers’ associations as well.
Confindustria was involved in the corruption scandal “ Mani pulite” and this, as we will
see, weakened its negotiation power. Confindustria lacked political support: it was by now
alienated from all the parties. It was not that Confindustria desired to operate
independently of the dynamics of the parties and the government coalitions (unlike the
trade unions); rather, its stance was taken up in protest against the inability of the four- and
five-party governments to deal with the country’s economic difficulties 6 . But later in the
‘90s some organisational changes reduced internal fragmentation. Privatisation of several
state-owned enterprises led to the merger with Confindustria of the Intersind and ASAP
associations, and hence to the internalization of divergent positions among employers.
After the 1993 agreement, the aims pursued by the new ‘Grande Confindustria’ were those
of coordinating and harmonizing the action of the industry federations. On the one hand,
the central offices were strengthened; on the other, Confindustria increased its
independence from the political parties (Regalia and Regini, 1998).
In the 2000s the two social pacts signed were driven by another economic emergency. The
political landscape was quite stable from 2001 to the beginning of 2006, while it became
unstable after the 2006 elections. Social partners were still internally integrated, but unity
between unions turned out to be more unstable.
4 In the early 1990s, Cgil embarked on a reform process driven by its charismatic general secretary Bruno
Trentin and dissolved its Communist faction, also in light of the fact that the Communist Party too was going
through a period of organizational and ideological revision. Following the corruption scandals, Christian
Democracy – the party closest to Cisl – disappeared from the political scene.
5 The confederations then undertook to draw up a unitary statute in 1998, to distribute the membership cards
for the new single union in 1999, and to hold the first unitary congress in 2000 (Molina Romo 2004).
6 Confindustria proposed a set of thoroughgoing institutional reforms and also supported referendums on the
electoral system (which led to a majoritarian system with a quota of proportional representation) and the
public funding of the political parties.
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As regards the economic scenario, the Italian economy started a new period of crisis. After
2001 it was affected by the crisis of the international financial markets and by the
exacerbation of geopolitical tensions. Data show (see Table 2, Annexes) that, from 2001 to
2007, the Italian GDP growth was quite low compared to the European average growth
which was around 3%. The competitiveness of Italian firms was marked by a limited
growth in export volume (a fall in exports for which appreciation of the euro was largely
responsible). Employment continued to grow very slowly and its growth rate was below
the European average. In 2006 there were relatively positive values of these three
indicators. But still they were well below, not only the European average, but also the
levels registered in previous years that were signed by strong economic growth.
The political situation changed as well. After the regional elections of 2000, the prime
minister of the centre-left coalition (Massimo D’Alema) tendered his resignation. It was
yet another technocratic government headed by Giuliano Amato that took the country to
the general elections of 2001, which were won by the centre-right coalition. Silvio
Berlusconi became the new prime minister. The government had a strong parliamentary
majority. To adopt the labour market reform proposed by the Ministry of Labour, a new
social pact was signed in July 2002 without the CGIL confederation.
In fact, the distinctive feature of this period was the breakdown of union unity. From 1999
onwards, divisions among the three union confederations widened, and the difficulty of
achieving union unity increased until the ‘breakdown’ of the early 2000s. Cgil’s strategies
diverged from those of the other two confederations. In 2004 the uions held again a unitary
position against the Berlusconi government’s socio-economic reforms, concerning mainly
the labour market and pensions. In March 2004, for the first time in ten years, the unions
gathered in an unitary assembly of six thousand delegates. The assembly approved a
document on economic, social and incomes policies (Eironline, 2004).
The 2006 general elections were won by a centre-left coalition. The new government,
headed by Romano Prodi, was based on a very narrow parliamentary majority. It showed
immediately to be in favour of dialogue with the social partners and it highlighted the
importance of industrial relations to revive the Italian economy. Among the elements that
typified this vision of policy making we can quote the fact that the Ministry of Labour and
the two chambers of parliament were chaired by former trade unionists. A new social pact
was signed in July 2007.
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During this period, the social partners were able to maintain a moderate internal unity.
However, with the resumption of an attitude more oriented to dialogue (also because of the
new centre-left government), the most radical factions of Cgil held an adversarial logic. In
the 2006 Centenary Celebration Congress, the internal differences about strategies to be
pursued were discussed again. Some industry federations (including FIOM) participated in
the demonstration held by the radical left in November 2006 (Eironline, 2007).
2.2 Negotiation process and actor preferences
In this section we will describe the emergence of social pacts focusing on actors’
interactions and preferences before, during and after negotiations. We will highlight not
only events and interactions that led to the signature, but also actors’ strategies, stemming
from their relative power and their perception of it, but also from the actors’ perception of
2.2.1 Bargained laws in the late 1970s and the 1983-1984 tripartite pacts
Despite their internal tensions, after the mid-1970s the social partners began to consider
concertation as a means to overcome the economic crisis, although they regarded it as a
second-best solution. In fact, by the mid 1970s unions concentrated their action at the
central level in order to tackle high unemployment and a high rate of inflation 7 (Regalia
and Regini, 1998). For traditionally adversarial unions, it was difficult to imagine a radical
shift toward cooperation. But they also realized that further improvements in wages and
working conditions could hardly be achieved via collective bargaining, despite their high
mobilization power. Employers as well found increasingly difficult to transfer higher
labour costs onto price increases and accepted union participation in economic policy in
order to avert union opposition (ibid.). The economic situation and actors’ perception of
interdependence increased then the propensity toward agreements on the main socio-
The ’national solidarity’ government supported the policy of wage moderation and unions’
strategies shifted from conflict to cooperation (the 1978 so-called ‘Eur turning point’). In
exchange for their cooperation, the unions expected to be given a more prominent role in
national policy-making. The Communist Party exerted strong pressure on the unions to
7 However, union action continued at plant level as well: over 32,000 factory councils (corresponding to
about 206,000 delegates) represented around 5 million workers in the early 1980s (Regalia and Regini,
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show wage moderation during collective bargaining. Yet the unions came to consider wage
moderation the best strategy anyway, given the political and economic conditions of the
time (Molina Romo, 2004).
During this period a number of laws concerning the reduction of labour costs were
negotiated with the social partners. Other ‘bargained laws’ were enacted to lower
unemployment and to support employment (see Table 1, Annexes). The unions committed
themselves to moderate plant-level mobilization 8 , while the government pledged to support
employment rather than focus on cutting labour costs.
This trade-off, however, was not enough to reduce inflation to any marked extent. On the
one hand, despite the ‘Eur turning point’, the unions felt they could not accept measures
that would radically contradict their past claims. On the other hand, governments were not
powerful enough to ‘impose’ drastic measures on the unions, given that they were unstable
and supported by a parliamentary majority in which parties traditionally linked with unions
predominated (Salvati, 2001).
In 1983 a tripartite agreement (the so-called ‘Lodo Scotti’) was signed by all three union
confederations, Confindustria and the government (see Table 1, Annexes). The CGIL
signed the agreement reluctantly in order to maintain trade-union unity of action, and only
after the government had threatened that it would act unilaterally. The employers and
unions obtained a few concessions in the deal: the employers a certain amount of relief on
social security contributions; the unions some family income support measures (Mascini,
In 1984, the government proposed a new tripartite agreement, on the grounds that the
‘Lodo Scotti’ had proved ineffective in combating inflation, and asked the unions to make
further concessions. The government’s proposals were set out in a decree, and they
exacerbated disputes among the unions on the interests to be pursued via negotiation. The
Communist majority faction in the Cgil, and the Communist Party itself, opposed an
agreement that would have yielded only concessions from the unions and scant advantages
to them. Hence, whilst Cisl and Uil found the government’s decree acceptable, Cgil
refused to sign the agreement. Nonetheless, the government went ahead and enacted a
decree which contained all of the agreement’s clauses. This partially failed social pact (the
‘San Valentino Pact’) was the first to introduce greater flexibility (part-time contracts and
8 In fact from the second half of the 1970s onwards conflict in the private sector tended to diminish, while in
the public sector it increased (Regalia and Regini, 1998).
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contratti di formazione lavoro - training contracts for young people) in the Italian labour
The unions’ internal tensions provoked mobilization by factory councils in Northern Italy
during negotiations on the pact. The so-called ‘autoconvocati’ (shop stewards not
supported by official unions) protested against the wage restraint policy adopted by the
confederal unions (Baccaro, 2001). This was in spite of the positive outcome of a
referendum held among workers after the signature of the tripartite agreement of 1983 and
in which 69% of 4.1 million workers voted in favour of the confederal strategy.
The parties signed the agreements relatively rapidly under pressure applied by the
government and because they perceived that their bargaining power had diminished.
Mutually at odds on the one hand, and internally fragmented on the other, the
confederations had insufficient power to carry the negotiations forward and direct them
towards gains more concrete than those already negotiated. For unions, the lack of
coordination between the two levels weakened the central action because they could not
use their mobilization power to make pressure during the negotiation.
2.2.2 Pact of July 1992
Throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, despite the halt in concertation after 1984,
bipartite negotiation kept dialogue between the social parties alive.
In June 1989, an agreement was signed which postponed cancellation of the scala mobile
for a year and acted as the framework for negotiations on firms’ competitiveness (Mascini,
2000). In January 1990, another agreement was reached under which the unions undertook
to cooperate with firms in exchange for their recognition in workplaces. Nevertheless,
forceful measures to curb labour costs were not introduced. Confindustria only signed
under pressure from the government, which promised to intervene in labour costs by
subsidising social security contributions
Negotiations continued on the cost of labour and the bargaining structure. In July 1990 a
new tripartite agreement provided that official negotiations on reform of the wage
structure, bargaining system, and the pay-indexation mechanism would begin in June 1991.
The social partners nevertheless failed to reach agreement on these issues and explicitly
requested mediation by the government. However, given that negotiations were still
ongoing on the main sectoral collective agreements, it was decided that talks should
resume after the spring of 1992 (Negrelli, 2000).
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Negotiations did in fact resume in June 1992. In our interviews, the union leaders involved
in such negotiations highlighted the difficulty of their double objective, namely facing the
deep economic crisis while at the same time keeping a reasonable level of protection of
"We thought it was necessary to sign a pact with the objective of decreasing the inflation rate and of
putting public budget under control, but also to get in exchange a more stable collective bargaining
system in order to protect wages, in the event of changing the indexation system" (Int. n. 1).
The social partners were split on the matters to be covered by the agreement. Confindustria
preferred a short-term agreement which would rapidly intervene in the economic crisis.
Principally at issue for Confindustria were the various levels of wage determination. The
employers’ association pressed for a single level of wage bargaining 9 in order to avoid
overlaps between levels. The union confederations instead wanted a long-term structural
agreement whereby incomes policies would be used not only to achieve macroeconomic
stability but also to increase investment and employment. The confederations argued for
two levels of collective bargaining, and they also wanted the negotiating of wage rises to
be allowed at company level as well. The government, for its part, would have preferred
confirmation of the two-tier collective bargaining system – accompanied, though, by a law
establishing a special social contributions regime for wage increases negotiated at firm
level (Mascini, 2000; Molina Romo, 2004).
Given the diversity of these positions and the likely impossibility of reaching agreement, at
the end of July 1992 the then prime minister Giuliano Amato submitted an ‘unmodifiable’
proposal to the social partners. This did not resolve all the issues, and as regards the
bargaining structure it only made commitments to resolving the question in the near future.
Nevertheless, Amato’s proposal did crucially envisage abolition of the scala mobile,
namely the wage indexation mechanism. Following negotiations internally to the trade-
union confederations and the threat to resign by prime minister Amato, the agreement was
signed in order to avert the economic damage that a government vacuum would cause (see
Table 1, Annexes). An extremely narrow majority of the Cgil secretariat decided to sign
the agreement when its leader Trentin cast his vote in favour (Mascini, 2000).
The gains by the government and Confindustria consisted mainly in the unions’ agreement
to abolition of the scala mobile and the year-long suspension of firm-level bargaining. The
9 The national or regional level, or even the company level as long as it was regulated by the national-level
agreement, while firm-level bargaining should be concerned with qualitative issues (for instance, workforce
involvement in company management).
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unions, however, received no economic pay-off for their cooperation, apart from a pledge
by the government to maintain the real purchasing power of pensions, and a promise that
negotiations on reform of the collective bargaining system would begin before 1993.
The negotiation has been affected both by the period of economic and political emergence
and by the social partners’ internal transformations seen in the previous paragraph. For the
unions, the Social Pact of 1992 provoked the same reactions as the Pact of 1984, with
internal opposition (mainly within Cgil) and demonstrations against the trade-union leaders
by the autoconvocati movement (Baccaro, 2001).
In any event, the turn taken by the negotiations shows that none of the three actors was in a
position to prolong matters for very long, or to adopt ‘exit’ strategies (despite Cgil’s
opposition to the agreement) with which to influence outcomes. Strong awareness of
interdependence among the actors consequently developed during the negotiations: the
interest organizations accepted the government’s proposal because it was necessary to
intervene in the economic system.
In fact, our interviewees underline two main aspects: on the one hand, Cgil felt obliged to
sign the pact against its own willingness; on the other, social partners had little alternative
but to cooperate with a government firmly and directly determined to reach an agreement.
"The objectives of the pact changed during the negotiation process. The initial goal was to give rise
to an incomes policy via change of the bargaining structure, but then discussion moved to the role of
the indexation mechanism in fuelling inflation. The difficult economic situation and the absolute
necessity to intervene rapidly changed power relations by weakening unions' resistance and leading
to an internally controversial decision by Cgil to sign. Had Cgil not signed, economic crisis would
have further deepened and Cgil would have been held responsible for it" (Int. 1).
"The dramatic economic situation obviously shaped unions' strategies, forcing them to give exit
from crisis absolute priority. Cgil's objectives were to keep both the indexation system and
collective bargaining autonomy. Neither of them entered the pact and this led to heated internal
discussion, including resignation by the Cgil's general secretary. Eventually Cgil signed as well
because considerations of general interest prevailed, but with a feeling of having its signature
'extorted' by the government, which gave a 'take it or leave it' ultimatum". (Int. 2).
A salient feature of this power relations context is that there were no marked imbalances in
negotiating power among the three actors. As we have seen, in 1991 the interest
organizations asked the government to mediate among their interests; but this was a
government weakened by its lack of a parliamentary majority. The government had not the
power to conduct social partners toward an agreement on the reform of collective
bargaining system, and this is why it was postponed.
2.2.3 Pact of July 1993
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The initiative to resume negotiations was taken by prime minister Amato, and the interest
organizations gave him their backing (except for Cgil that, because of its internal tensions,
was the most indecisive). It was necessary to tackle the economic crisis, and whilst the
Amato government took unilateral and drastic action on public spending, it also sought the
consensus of the social partners in order to curb inflationary pressures. Measures to reduce
the cost of labour and wage increases were the priorities for Confindustria, but they were
also on the agenda for the union confederations, which wanted not only to achieve closer
coordination among their various levels of action but also to institutionalize their
participation in policy-making.
Following the 1992 agreement, after several meetings on reform of the collective
bargaining system (an issue outstanding from the previous year), in June 1993 the union
confederations and Confindustria still adhered to their conflicting positions taken up the
The Cgil, while internally divided on the strategies to adopt, saw negotiations leading to a
new pact as a chance to advance its proposals on collective bargaining structure, in this
way counteracting the relative 'defeat' of 1992.
"The 1992 pact had been a delicate issue for Cgil, which signed it in spite of its opposition to
abolishing the scala mobile. It was now necessary to find a solution to the problem of the bargaining
structure. The Cgil saw the new accord as a way to fix the damages of the previous year. Reform of
collective bargaining was a 'union' objective, unlike what it was forced to do in 1992, when general
interest goals prevailed" (Int. 1).
"In 1993 we started negotiation with very clear ideas about incomes policies and autonomy of
collective bargaining: we felt it necessary to recover on our failure in the previous year, namely our
acceptance to suspend firm-level bargaining" (Int. 2).
During the first month of negotiations Tangentopoli continued to aggravate the instability
of the government, which resigned. The negotiations were taken over by a new
technocratic government headed by Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, under the new Minister of
Labour, Gino Giugni, the most prestigious labour law scholar in Italy (Mascini, 2000).
The unions demanded that, if the duration of collective agreements was extended to four
years, wages should be aligned with the real inflation rate twice during this period. Giugni
knew that thus introduced would be a mechanism similar to the scala mobile, and this the
employers would never accept. He therefore proposed a contractual rather than automatic
system of wage/inflation rate alignment. Giugni’s proposal was not contested. In the end
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the parties agreed to confirm the rule that firm-level bargaining could only take place
where possible, and on the basis of power relationships (ibid.).
Confindustria was in an uneasy position during the negotiation. It was very difficult for it
to present strong and internally consolidated arguments during the negotiation, as it was
still weak and internally fragmented. Besides the impact of Tangentopoli, which continued
to debilitate the organization, internal disputes grew more heated between the owners of
small firms and those of medium-to-large ones on how to deal with the economic crisis
On the unions’ side, internal divisions certainly abated during the period (without space for
dissent being eliminated, however), and this was matched by a propensity to unity among
the three confederations. The period between the pacts of 1992 and 1993 also saw greater
efforts by the confederations to forge trade-union unity 10 . "The unions had grown more
compact in their demands and therefore perceived themselves as wielding greater
negotiating power" (Int. 1), and perhaps let the other actors gain the same impression. The
agreement was concluded on 3 July by the government, Confindustria, and the three union
confederations (see Table 1, Annexes).
Compared to the pact of the previous year, the outcomes of the July 1993 agreement were
decidedly more advantageous to the unions. The confederations were now able to structure
their participation in national-level policy-making, and they had also obtained a reform of
the bargaining system which matched their interests in that it also included a new
structuring of workplace union representation. This tripartite negotiation enabled the
unions to institutionalize their role in decision-making, both central and decentralized
(through the workplace union representation structures), while it gave the government a
certain degree of legitimacy. Confindustria (and the government) obtained the unions’
commitment to wage restraint and the moderation of social conflict.
On the occasion of the tripartite agreement of July 1993 the internal fragmentation of the
unions diminished. For the first time in the history of Italian trade unionism, the agreement
was signed only after it had been approved by workplace referendums. Although the
parties finalized the agreement on 3 July 1993, it was actually signed on 23 July 1993, after
the referendums had been held 11 . The autoconvocati did not mobilize (opposition to the
10 During the Cisl congress of 1993 the proposal was put forward that the union should turn itself into a
single political actor – different and independent from the traditional political parties – given the crisis of
Italy’s political system.
11 The union confederations organized around 30,000 assemblies in the largest factories and offices. Around
1.5 million workers voted, and 68% of them approved the agreement. Only three sectors (automobiles, air
transport, universities) out of 50 rejected the agreement on incomes policy.
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agreement was expressed through workplace assemblies), not because they were in favour
of the agreement, but possibly because they appreciated the novelty that it introduced:
more precise rules on the relationship between the rank-and-file and the confederations
The pact took place amid new awareness by the parties that they were mutually
interdependent, especially if a solution was to be found for the profound crisis afflicting
the national economy. To face the economic situation it was necessary to obtain the
consent of each social partner. Thus, despite the different degrees of negotiation power, it
was necessary to conciliate social partners’ positions and this was difficult without the
exercise of external authority. The mediation performed by the Minister of Labour Giugni
had a significant impact on the outcomes of the negotiations. Interviews with several actors
underline the importance of his role during the negotiation.
"The Prime Minister and the Minister of Labour have played a strong role of guarantors. They were
fully and directly involved in designing and reaching the deal. Their competence and
authoritativeness made them ideal subjects to mediate among our positions, as their proposals were
capable to take all views into account" (Int 2).
2.2.4 The negotiated pension reform (May 1995)
In 1994, the social partners sought to keep the ‘concertation table’ alive, for fear that the
election of a centre-right government would gainsay the provisions of the July 1993
agreement. Prior to the elections, the trade-union confederations and Confindustria sent a
joint delegation to the President of the Republic in order to affirm their commitment to
concertation – a method, they declared, which they would not forego because the July 1993
agreement had proved a crucial instrument of a modern incomes policy (Giugni, 2003).
However, the new centre-right government refrained from giving any immediate
reassurance on concertation. And despite subsequent reassurances by the Prime Minister,
in the autumn of 1994 the new government unilaterally enacted a series of drastic financial
measures, among them reform of the pensions system. The purpose of the reform was to
solve the pensions problem by changing the criteria to calculate benefits. In 1992 the
Amato government had altered the eligibility criteria (raising the retirement age, and
increasing the minimum years of contributions). However, more structural reform was
deemed necessary, and pensions calculated on the retiree’s final earnings were replaced by
pensions calculated on total contributions paid. Seniority pensions (to which 35 years of
contributions gave entitlement) were abolished. These measures conflicted with the
acquired rights of numerous categories of workers, and they also undermined the power of
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the union confederations which controlled the INPS, the institute which administered the
majority of private-sector pensions (Regalia and Regini, 1998).
Negotiations on the financial manoeuvre began in the autumn of 1994. There ensued a
series of trade-union rallies and general strikes. Unions demanded withdrawal of the
proposed reform of the pensions system and on 2 December, in order to avert further social
conflict, they signed an agreement put together by the Minister of Labour, Clemente
Mastella. Once again there was a risk that only Cisl and Uil would sign the agreement, but
Cgil belatedly did so as well. A further reason for scrapping the reform bill was that the
centre-right government was collapsing and it no longer made sense to reform the pensions
system by means of the budget law and have to withstand the discontent and social conflict
which it would provoke. The government withdrew the bill, therefore, and deferred social
security to a general provision on pensions system reform (Giugni, 2003).
Immediately on his appointment as prime minister of a new "technocratic government",
Lamberto Dini announced the resumption of dialogue with the social partners on the basis
of the July 1993 agreement. Negotiations were prolonged, lasting for several months, but
in the end an agreement between trade unions and the government was reached in May
The May 1995 agreement was converted into a law which introduced stricter rules on
eligibility and less generous criteria for the calculation of pension benefits. Confindustria
did not sign the agreement. This outcome was important for the unions because they had
kept the pensions system for workers with more seniority (the largest part of their
members) largely intact (Regalia and Regini, 1998).
Reform of the pensions system was contested in particular by middle-aged industrial
workers. The union confederations organized a massive wave of assemblies (around
42,000) which were followed by a referendum. Some 4.5 million workers cast their votes,
and 64% of them approved the reform. The reform received sufficient support from
workers because the consolidation of the workplace representation system had given
greater empowerment to various groups (public-sector workers, service workers, the
employees of small firms) which did not agree with the militant bargaining style of the
metalworkers and other industrial ‘elites’ and instead favoured compromise and
moderation (Baccaro, 2001).
The events surrounding reform of the pensions system signalled a shift in power balances.
Whilst the interest organizations were still aware of the precariousness of their role in
management of economic policy, they had reinvigorated and restructured their internal
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strategies. Both sides of industry were therefore better able to deploy exit options during
negotiations in order to obtain outcomes in line with their interests.
The new power balance among the parties gave greater negotiating leverage to the unions
(also owing to the success of the rallies and strikes), which in fact obtained a reform which
did not significantly damage the interests of workers (especially those with a certain
seniority). But it also led to Confindustria’s ‘exit’ from the negotiations because it had not
obtained the more radical reform that it wanted.
2.2.5 Pact of September 1996 (‘Pact for Employment’)
The dialogue with the social partners was resumed in 1996 by the new elected Prodi
government, which found itself forced to take action on employment in order to reverse
negative trends in the labour market, and also on the public accounts in order to comply
with the convergence criteria established at Maastricht. In regard to the labour market, it
was necessary to shift from passive measures to support employment (early retirement,
subsidies for firms, etc.) to more active policies (Giugni, 2003). Whilst the position of the
Prodi government did not differ significantly from that of the previous governments which
had negotiated with the social partners (the need to overcome the economic crisis in order
to comply with the Maastricht parameters, and the government’s need to increase its
legitimation), the stances of the social partners changed to some extent.
Internally to Cgil, after reform of the pensions system and at the congresses of 1996,
divergent positions were taken up on the strategies to adopt. The general secretary of the
metalworkers’ federation (Fiom) reiterated the need to return to a strategy of conflict, on
the grounds that wage increases based on company performance ran the risk to become
unilaterally decided by the employers, so that the unions would have no influence on them
in the long run. The confederation’s leader Sergio Cofferati did not criticise this position.
But within Cgil there were also positions contrary to Fiom’s and which instead argued for
trade-union action based on dialogue and participation (Mascini, 2000). This was also the
stance traditionally adopted by Cisl, together with the idea of unity of action.
The positions of Confindustria were not completely favourable to concertation. In 1996 a
new president was elected (Giorgio Fossa, a small businessman more concerned with
problems of firms’ competitiveness than with industrial relations issues). He therefore
distanced himself from concertation, stating that the period in which it was necessary for
the social partners to assume political tasks had by now ended. Anyway, it was necessary
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to intervene on the labour market and Confindustria probably wanted to press on its
demands trying to obtain better results than on pensions reform.
The need to intervene in the labour market was not disputed during the negotiations. What
instead was ruled out of discussion, mainly by Cgil, was incomes policy. And it was in fact
Cgil that opposed the government’s request for a 2.5% ceiling on pay rises. In exchange
for employment creation measures, the government asked the employers to accept tax
increases if necessary, and Confindustria reacted positively (Molina Romo, 2004). The
agreement was signed by the trade-union confederations, Confindustria (as well as other
employer organizations), and the government in September 1996 (see Table 1, Annexes).
In 1997 this ‘Pact for Employment’ was incorporated in the ‘Treu Law’ which introduced
various provisions as regards labour flexibility, although they were regarded as inadequate
by firms because of their limits and the numerous controls required by the legislation
(Salvati, 2001). The agreement did not formally define the rules on concertation – the most
important issue for Cisl – established by the 1993 agreement: this would have required
reviews of the implementation of agreements. Moreover, the pact did not address incomes
policy issues because of Cgil’s opposition (Giugni, 2003).
The principal feature of negotiations on the pact was the option left open by Cgil of
recourse to conflict. The risk was of most concern to the government (probably because it
feared losing legitimacy in the eyes of its left constituency), which consequently agreed not
to negotiate incomes policy issues. Moreover, a type of ‘controlled’ labour-market
flexibility was introduced (Regini, 2000), and this was probably the result of effective
pressure by the unions.
2.2.6 Pact of December 1998 (‘Christmas Pact’)
At the end of 1997, the centre-left Prodi government was pressed by the Communist
Reconstruction Party to present a bill in parliament which would reduce working time to
35 hours a week (it was a pledge, made during the government crisis of October 1997, in
exchange of the renewed support for the coalition). Both the union confederations and
Confindustria protested against the unilateral action taken by the government on working
time arrangements. Confindustria threatened to cancel the July 1993 agreement and unions
responded in highly critical and preoccupied terms to Confindustria’s announcement
(Lavoro e informazione, 1998).
The interactions between government and social partners enhanced after Italy fulfilled the
Maastricht parameters. Confindustria withdrew its threat to revoke the July 1993 pact, but
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reiterated a formal request for discussion on all aspects of concertation – a method which it
considered valid but had been betraid by the law on the 35-hour working week. Also the
prime minister declared his commitment to continuing dialogue with the social partners.
The three union confederations welcomed Confindustria’s decision not to abandon the
‘concertation table’ – calling it an “act of responsibility” (ibid.).
After the crisis which led to the resignation of Prodi, the negotiation was carried out by the
new centre-left government headed by Massimo D’Alema, who strongly supported the
resumption of dialogue between the social partners (even if there were voices hostile to
concertation within the government coalition: the parties furthest to the left in the coalition
envisaged a resumption of conflict as the only way to achieve compromises between the
Before negotiations began, the new prime minister urged the participation in them of other
actors as well: representatives of small firms, the non-profit sector, and local governments
(especially in the southern regions). The general secretary of Cgil was contrary to such
enlargement of participation, and he emphasised its impracticality. The climate was no
longer that of economic emergency, and the objectives of the pact were to discuss the
bargaining system, but especially to reaffirm and strengthen relations between the
government and the social partners. The government pursued this goal by highlighting its
neutral position (to counter fears that power balance might have shifted towards Cgil,
given its political closeness to the government) and the inclusion of other collective actors
in the negotiation was partly instrumental to this goal. The political nature of the
government (the first to be headed by a former communist) required reassurances of its
impartiality to be made to Cisl and the employers’ organizations, which feared the political
influence of Cgil.
During meetings held between the prime minister and the social partners, the question of
enlarged participation was clarified and then accepted, after the idea was put forward of
dividing the Pact into two distinct parts: (i) incomes policy and bargaining arrangements,
which would be negotiated by the government, unions, and the employers’ associations;
(ii) policies for development and employment, which would be discussed also by
representatives of local governments, principally the Regions (Lavoro e informazione,
The entire issue of revising the July 1993 agreement rotated around the two-tier bargaining
system: the employers had accepted it as the price exacted for general agreement but now
wanted to alter it, while the unions intended to keep it intact (Mascini, 2000).
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The difficulties of reaching agreement on the bargaining structure forced the actors to set
the issue aside. The provisions of the 1993 pact were thus confirmed in order not to
prolong the negotiations unduly, the principal purpose of which was instead to reaffirm the
validity of the concertation method.
The agreement was signed after consultation of the employers’ associations and the unions
in January 1999. There were numerous signatories: the government and 32 interest
organizations. The agreement substantially confirmed the provisions of the 1993 pact (see
Table 1, Annexes).
The unions agreed to continue with a policy of wage moderation. They gained further
institutionalization of their participation in policy-making from the pact, while the
employers obtained the government’s commitment to implementing fiscal measures to
reduce the cost of labour and to encourage investments. The ‘Christmas Pact’ was more a
symbolic pact by which actors tried to reaffirm their mutual spheres of influence than a
pact by which to negotiate relevant reforms and this was possible given the end of the
period of ‘economic emergency’. This is precisely what emerges from our interviews,
which insist that the main issue at stake was not reforms but rather government's
willingness to re-establish a climate of cooperation with social partners.
2.2.7 Pact of July 2002 (‘Pact for Italy’)
At the beginning of 2000s social partners started a period of not easy interactions. Unions
and Confindustria were changing their strategies to face the economic situation.
Concertation on economic issues was not taken for granted because of the relative power
achieved by both Confindustria and the unions thanks to the reduction of their internal
fragmentations, as seen above. Confindustria, with Antonio D’Amato as president (a small
businessman), started a period of progressive distancing from the social dialogue and
considered the election of the centre-right coalition a possibility to reform radically Italian
After the victory of the centre-right coalition the president of Confindustria asked the
newly-elected prime minister Berlusconi to “make even unpopular choices” in order to
reform the Italian economy. Berlusconi acceded to the request, but then adopted an
accommodating stance towards the unions as well (Rassegna sindacale, n. 23, 2001).
Together with the pressure on the government, Confindustria tried to obtain unions’
consent and to this end, it proposed a ‘Pact for Competitiveness’ targeted on pensions,
labour-market flexibility (fewer constraints on hiring and dismissals), and the tax burden
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on firms. Cgil was critical and its leader declared that they refused to negotiate a pact
which comprised a wide range of issues like the pacts of 1993 and 1998. For its part, Cisl
(which had elected a new general secretary, Savino Pezzotta) and Uil (with the newly-
elected secretary Luigi Angeletti) pronounced in favour of negotiation (Molina Romo,
The new president of Confindustria stated his organization’s willingness to sign a separate
agreement with Cisl and Uil in order to resolve the deadlock. The Minister of Industry
stressed that union unity was not an indispensable condition for agreements to be reached
(Il Sole 24 ore, 10 February 2001). In February 2001 an agreement was concluded by
Confindustria, Cisl and Uil. Cgil held firmly on its views which were officially reaffirmed
to the Minister of Labour in March (Rassegna sindacale, n. 10, 2001). Cgil sought in this
way to maintain an institutional role by officially notifying its views. On the other hand, it
adopted a conflict strategy in order to oblige the other social partners to take account of its
In October 2001 the government issued a White Paper written by a group of experts which
established the framework for reform of the labour market and the industrial relations
system. The White Paper made reference to the concertation method and remarked upon its
inability to deal with the new magnitude assumed by economic and social problems. In
short, for the new government concertation had been used in a distorted manner (Giugni,
During the months following publication of the White Paper, the government advanced a
number of law bills for reform of the labour market, the pensions system, and taxation.
Confindustria indicated its intention to abandon the concertation table and to support
unilateral action by the government on labour-market reform. Cgil reacted to the White
Paper by rallying against the policies proposed, while Cisl and Uil were still amenable to
The government and Confindustria saw Cgil's behaviour as dictated by a political bias
against the centre-right cabinet.
“Cgil had a clear political bias, while the two other confederations were oriented to a political
exchange. Our objective was not to isolate Cgil, but to have the largest possible number of social
actors converge on this exchange. Clearly, in Italy reforms can only succeed if the unions cooperate:
not even the Berlusconi government, in spite of its clear parliamentary majority, had the political
strength to act unilaterally. This unwritten rule had virtuous effects when emergencies had to be
faced, but its outcomes could never be fully satisfactory” (Int. 4);
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“During negotiation of the pact, Cgil's attitude was to sit at the table but ready to leave it right away.
This was dictated by its political bias, while the article 18 [reform of dismissals] was used as an
excuse (Int. 3)”.
During the negotiations on the reforms proposed by the government, also Cisl and Uil
walked out of the talks in reaction to the government’s refusal to consider the unions’
demands. In April 2002, jointly with Cgil, they announced a general strike in which around
13 million workers took part. The protest centred on the government’s fiscal policy and
reform of article 18 of the Workers’ Statute (i.e. the rule on reinstatement of workers
dismissed without ‘just cause’ by firms with more than 15 employees). The unions’
negotiating power was boosted by the success of the general strike: the government was
forced to reconsider its position on the unions’ demands:
“A social pact was not necessary per se; the main reason to pursue it was to find some agreement
with the unions on the article 18 and to speed up labour market reform. Not the whole of
Confindustria was in favour of new negotiation with the unions (we could have acted directly by
pressuring the government), ma the unions' consent was necessary to speed up reforms” (Int. 3);
Talks resumed in May 2002, when the government indicated its willingness to consider the
unions’ demands on reform of the social shock absorbers and repeal of the legislation on
article 18. However, Cgil did not consider the government’s decision on article 18 to be a
genuine repeal and refused to take part in the negotiations. Cisl and Uil instead reacted
favourably to the report issued by the government and to the transfer of reform of article 18
to a separate bill (Eironline, 2002). The benefit gained from the general strike in terms of
negotiating power was vitiated by Cgil’s exit from the negotiations, which signalled deep
divisions inside the trade unions.
On 5 July 2002 the Pact for Italy was signed (see Table 1, Annexes) by the representatives
of the government, all the employers’ organizations (including those traditionally close to
the parties on the left, like Lega delle Cooperative and Confesercenti) and the unions (Cisl,
Uil, Ugl and Cisal), but not by the largest confederation, Cgil. Implementation of the Pact
was almost entirely referred to legislation.
The employers obtained from the Pact increased labour-market flexibility and the
government’s commitment to tax reform (in particular of taxes levied on firms), while the
gain for the unions was that certain labour-market reform measures were introduced only
temporarily and experimentally, as well as the government’s undertakings to aid the South
of Italy and to combat irregular work (L’imprenditore, 2002). The outcomes of the
negotiation were unbalanced toward government and Confindustria and this was perhaps a
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consequence of the breakdown of unions’ unity. Unions could not oppose unitary strategies
and reactions and then the return of inter-organizational fragmentation diminished their
2.2.8 Pact for Welfare 2007
During the previous government, social dialogue had suffered a setback. The basic contrast
between social partners and government was on reforms of the labour market, the
bargaining structure and pensions. Especially in 2002-2003 social conflicts were quite
intense, as shown in table 10 (Annexes).
The labour market reform envisaged in the Pact for Italy became law in 2003. This law
was supported, with doubts, by the trade union confederations signatories of the Pact
(CISL and UIL), while strongly opposed by CGIL. The latter proposed a referendum on
reform of unemployment benefits, extension of the protection against dismissals, and
extension to a-typical workers of the same rights enjoyed by regular employees, but the
proposal did not reach the quorum needed for a referendum to be held (Eironline, 2003).
The social partners showed different strategies and visions on the bargaining structure, too.
On this theme, in 2004 the new president of Confindustria, Luca Cordero di Montezemolo,
sought dialogue with trade unions. But the dialogue was not possible due to Cgil’s
criticism about the real need of reforming the existing bargaining structure (CNEL, 2006).
The pensions issue was, instead, an area of rapprochement for trade union confederations.
The pensions reform in 2005 (which has substantially tightened the eligibility criteria even
if its implementation was postponed to 2008) was a first resumption of social dialogue.
Although to a limited extent, this dialogue developed not so much with the government,
but between union confederations (which opted again for a unitary general strike against
this reform) and employers' associations (which held an almost neutral position). The
unitary and bilateral social partners’ action was in particular focused against the economic
policy of the government.
In the autumn of 2004, the unions and Confindustria signed a pact for competitiveness, that
included proposals for Southern Italy development and for research and collaboration
between universities and companies. The social dialogue, then, continued bilaterally.
Unions unity helped to increase the confederations awareness of their relative power
(although not at the levels achieved in the past). Indicators of this perception were both the
use of general strikes and the joint signature of metalworkers contract (a matter that at that
time was not so obvious). As Carrieri (2007) stressed, the recourse to conflict in the period
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2001-06 produced more effects on the re-construction of collective identity than on the
actual influence on policies.
With the election of Prodi in 2006, both social partners had strong expectations. On the one
hand, the unions and Confindustria were aware of their power to press the government to
obtain what they required. On the other, they were aware of their interdependence in a
climate of economic emergency.
The government, that was politically weak but was oriented to social dialogue, convened
the social partners in March 2007 (following their repeated appeals) and proposed a joint
solution on three main areas (Eironline, 2007): productivity and competitiveness;
modernization of public administration and reduction of costs; welfare reform.
For each one of the above themes, "concertation committees" were established. The
negotiation took place in a quite positive atmosphere. Pensions and bargaining structure
reforms were the most controversial themes. Confindustria criticized the reform of social
security, on the grounds that it would be too heavy for public finances. At the same time
the unions threatened a strike on the new measures proposed for the modernization of
The agreement was signed on 23 July 2007 (the same date of the historic agreement of
1993) by the government, CGIL, CISL, UIL and Confindustria (see Annexes, table 1).
CGIL and Confindustria expressed criticism about this agreement. Cgil considered the
pensions reform inadequate because it would not improve the eligibility criteria (made
more strict by the previous government’s reform in 2005), whereas Confindustria criticized
it for being too costly for the economy (Rassegna Sindacale, July 2007).
In the autumn of 2007 a referendum among workers and pensioners was held, in which
over 80% of voters endorsed the July agreement. Dissent concentrated mainly in
metalworkers factories and in call-centres environments.
Despite criticism and oppositions, the pact for welfare was characterized by the willingness
of the social partners to cooperate for the common goal of economic recovery. The exit
option was not considered a winning strategy by either trade unions or Confindustria. The
unions were strongly interested in remaining a partner in the negotiation of such strategic
themes and with a government inclined to negotiate with them. Confindustria, on the other
hand, obtained relevant tax grants for companies.
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3. The Evolution of Social Pacts: a Partly Failed Institutionalisation?
3.1 Mechanisms of institutionalisation
By mechanisms of institutionalisation we mean the processes that lead to a stable and
recurrent concertation as policy–making device. More specifically, we mean the ability of
social pacts to serve socio-economic needs, to produce satisfactory outcomes for the actors
and to create inter- and intra- organisational ties and networks. In this section we will then
describe the main outcomes generated by the tripartite agreements: on the one hand, we
shall consider objective indicators of socio-economic performance throughout the period in
which these agreements have been signed; on the other, we shall examine institutional
outcomes – the degree of structuring and coordination in intra- and inter-organizational
relations. Finally we shall consider the role of governments in concertation.
3.1.1 Socio-economic outcomes
Analysis of the socio-economic outcomes of the social pacts first requires examination of
the time-trends of economic indicators. This provides objective evidence on the
performance of the Italian economy in periods when the social partners negotiated certain
aspects of economic policy.
Table 2 in the Appendix shows longitudinal data on the main economic performance
indicators from 1977 onwards – that is, from the year when concertation first emerged in
Italy. However, the data set out in Table 2 are not directly connected with social pacts; they
can only be used to infer the socio-economic impact of pacts indirectly.
In light of the discussion in the previous section, to be emphasised is the impact of pact
provisions concerning wage determination (mainly from 1992 onwards) on the inflation
rate. Two Italian studies (De Novellis, Origo and Vignocchi, 2002; CNEL, 2004 12 ) on the
macroeconomic effects of social pacts from the July 1992 agreement onwards provide data
that highlight the relationship among bargained wages, real wages, and inflation 13 . Table 3
(see Annexes) sets out these figures and relates them to the expected inflation rate (the
benchmark for calculation of pay rises established by the 1993 pact).
We can determine the ‘wage drift’ by comparing between the percentage variations of
bargained hourly wages and those of actual wages as shown in Table 3. The most marked
12 Probably the continuation of the 2002 study, given that the topics and scheme discussed are the same.
However, the CNEL 2004 document does not state its authors.
13 Data from 2004 to 2007 are our elaboration.
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differences between the two percentage variations occurred in 1993, 1996-97, 2000 and
2003, while in 2007 bargained hourly wages and actual wages recorded the same
percentage variations. Not surprisingly, given the still imperfect application of the new
collective bargaining structure (which imposed the constraint that deals reached at the
national level could not be renegotiated at the plant or territorial level), in 1993 the
variation in actual wages was 1.4 percentage points higher than the variation in bargained
wages. However, the fact that in some subsequent years there was a difference of around 1
percentage point between the two variations may not necessarily imply a strong wage drift
but rather overall adjustment of the wage determination system to the one established by
the 1993 Pact. Before drawing hasty conclusions as to the efficacy of the 1993 Pact in
regulating wage determination, it is necessary to examine the components of this ‘wage
drift’ more closely.
Some recent Italian surveys of second-level agreements have highlighted their large wage
component. A sample-based survey (Bordogna and Marchetti, 2002) 14 shows that pay
components (mainly performance-related bonuses) represented the issues most frequently
covered by agreements (in 116 out of 151 agreements). A previous longitudinal survey –
covering the years between 1984 and 1994 (Bordogna, 1997) – conducted on a broader
sample 15 highlighted the relative importance of pay in company-level bargaining: around
40% of the firms in the sample had bargained on pay-related issues in the period 1984-90,
and around 30% in the period 1991-93. Pay was invariably among the four issues most
frequently bargained at the decentralized level, and in some years it occupied second place
after trade-union rights (in the period 1988-89). From the early 1990s onwards pay
increases were constant and in fixed figures. Also a recent study based on the national
archive of private sector company bargaining (2946 company agreements) shows the
prevalence of pay components - again mainly performance related bonuses (Monitor
Hence, in order to determine the impact of the July 1993 Pact and therefore the actual
weight of the ‘wage drift’, it is not enough to observe whether decentralized bargaining is
characterized by agreements on pay, and principally performance-related bonuses.
Required instead is analysis of the components of the pay increase: the more the latter is
based on fixed amounts, the more wage determination by decentralized bargaining tends to
14 The sample consisted of 151 agreements signed in the industrial sector during 2000 and archived by the
CNEL (Consiglio nazionale dell’economia e del lavoro).
15 The survey was conducted by CESOS on behalf of the CNEL. The sample consisted of more than 1000
production units in the industrial sector, all of them with at least 20 employees (after 1991 the sample
diminished to 750-600 units).
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overlap with national-level bargaining, thereby increasing the wage drift. The agreement of
July 1993 in fact established that performance bonuses should be based on variable
components tied to corporate economic results precisely in order to avoid the overlap
between the two bargaining levels (Rossi and Sestito, 2000).
A sample-based survey (Casadio, Lamelas and Rodano, 2004) restricted to the industrial
sector – the results of which are set out in Table 8 (see Annexes) – shows that the ‘fixed’
components (or the ‘traditional’ ones, i.e. the practices followed prior to the July 1993
agreement) of supplementary pay increments in firms where they are negotiated have
diminished over time, being replaced by bonuses based on company performance.
3.1.2 Institutional outcomes
Integration of central and decentralized action
Longitudinal examination of tripartite agreements shows that those of 1992 and 1993
marked the beginning of closer coordination between the two levels of action. More
specifically, prior to those years the distance between workplaces and the central level of
action was a problem for the unions (although also Confindustria had similar problems of
coordination), in terms not only of controlling wage determination but also of strategies for
The July 1993 agreement rationalized the principles, rules and practices which had slowly
developed since the 1980s. The tripartite agreements of 1983-84 provided for closer
coordination of negotiating levels with a clause stating that the two levels must not overlap
(a novelty with respect to the past when much use was made of postponement clauses) and
with the 18-month suspension of firm-level bargaining so that the social partners could
implement these measures. All the subsequent national collective agreements contained
this clause, but they did so in a manner more symbolic than practicable (Bellardi, 1997).
The strategies actually adopted by companies moved in two directions: employees’ direct
involvement to reduce the influence of trade-unions (ibid.); or ‘micro-concertation’, that is,
informal cooperation between management and workers’ representatives on industrial
restructuring (Regalia and Regini, 1998). Rather than being structured in more
homogeneous and systematic form, the two levels of action increasingly co-existed, and
they acted in substantially autonomous manner.
As described in section B1, the workplace representation structures were only partly
controlled by the three union confederations. The factory councils (which consisted of both
union representatives and representatives elected by the workers) were the most common
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types of representative body until the beginning of the 1990s (Regalia and Regini, 1998).
With the ‘federative pact’ of 1972, the three union confederations recognized the role of
the factory councils as workplace representation bodies. However, this did not increase the
degree of coordination between centre and periphery in that the procedures for electing the
representatives and the competences of the factory councils were unclear.
The trend in unionization only marginally sheds light on the dynamics between the two
levels. As table 4 in the Annexes shows, the 1970s were characterized by high union
density, probably encouraged by the militant strategy pursued by the unions until the 1978
‘Eur turning-point’, and revitalization of firm-level representation bodies (replacement of
commissioni interne with RSAs and factory councils). Towards the end of the 1970s,
however, union membership began to decrease, at the same time when the confederations
decided to shift their strategies towards closer collaboration with the other social partners.
The consequence of this change of strategy was a centralization of union action followed
by numerous worker protests against the confederations’ strategies of action (Regalia and
Another factor responsible for the split between the rank-and-file and the confederations
was the advent of the ‘autonomous’ unions. As we have seen, during the 1980s new
workers’ organizations came into being which were opposed to the centralization of trade-
union action and sought to represent rank-and-file interests more directly.
Nonetheless, the decline in union density should not be taken to be a direct consequence of
scant coordination among the various levels of union action. As Regalia and Regini (1998)
stress, the decrease in union membership seems to have been mostly due to structural
changes in the economy, like expansion of the service sector, rather than being directly
caused by disaffection with the unions. Moreover, the widest gap between unions and
members was in the public sector, while the confederations maintained a relatively
prominent presence in the private sector – although until the 1990s the role of the unions at
decentralized level continued to be uncertain.
More useful for our purposes is analysis of union presence in workplaces; and also
examination of how the three confederations conducted negotiations at the decentralized
level. Hence, in order to determine if and how the July 1993 Pact influenced the degree of
coordination between the rank-and-file and the confederations, the most pertinent data
concern the RSU elections and the organization of bargaining levels. The former data
provide direct information on the prominence of the three confederations in workplaces,
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while the latter show how the relationship between the central and decentralized bargaining
levels evolved (and therefore the relationship among the various levels of policy-making).
The figures on RSU elections are decidedly favourable to the three confederations. The
data available refer to the first two electoral rounds after the creation of the RSUs. As
Table 5 in the Annexes shows, the majority of votes and seats went to Cgil, Cisl and Uil,
with the prevalence of the former in services and the public sector (according to figures
available on the 1998 elections). To be noted, however, is the increase in 1998 in the
percentage of seats obtained by unions not belonging to the three confederations, which all
together received more votes than Uil. These non-confederal unions, however, won no
seats in the public administration and very few in services.
Other interesting data on the workplace presence of the three confederations are provided
by a study (Bordogna, 1999) which reprised two surveys (1995, 1996) on a sample of 612
firms with at least 20 employees, stratified by industry and size.
The study reported the presence of works councils in 85% of the firms in the sample, albeit
with significant differences according to size: such bodies were present in almost all the
medium-to-large firms (>200 employees) but in only 40% of firms with fewer than 50
employees. In regard to the type of these bodies (RSU or other forms of representation) the
study showed that there were not marked differences between large and small firms.
However, there were some differences relative to the presence of representative bodies not
affiliated with the three main confederations: ‘autonomous’ unions were present in 12% of
the large firms (>500 employees) in the sample (Cobas in 5%) and associations of
executive cadres in 16% of these firms.
On moving to analysis of the data on firm-level bargaining it should be emphasised that
systematic and longitudinal surveys on this aspect have not been conducted in Italy. The
data available are therefore fragmentary and not completely comparable because they have
been collected by different surveys carried out at different times and across relatively short
time-spans. There is also a problem of representativeness, in that the sampling methods are
not always comparable over time and the samples are sometimes rather small. A further
problem concerning representativeness is that most longitudinal and systematic surveys
refer to the industrial sector alone. Nevertheless, despite these limitations, some of these
surveys furnish information that is useful for our purposes here.
The most systematic data available are again those collected by Bordogna (1997, 1999).
These data stop at 1996, because this author based his analyses on data systematically
collected by CESOS, which discontinued the survey in 1996. Table 6 in the Annexes shows
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the time-trend of bargaining on the basis of data collected for each year. The table shows a
downward trend in firm-level bargaining until 1994 and then its revival in the years
thereafter. The highest level of bargaining was recorded in the 1980s. The subsequent
decline was due to various factors both macroeconomic and institutional. The causes were
changes in economic and labour-market conditions, but also factors more closely related to
social pacts, such as the 18-month freeze on firm-level wage bargaining (as established by
the July 1992 agreement) and the postponement of second-level bargaining after the
signing of national-level collective agreements (as established by the July 1993
agreement). The decline was therefore due to transition from the old to the new bargaining
system, and it is for this reason that one observes a revival after this ‘settling-in’ phase.
Other studies, less longitudinal and/or systematic, highlight interesting aspects. The data in
this case were collected by two national agencies (ISTAT and the Bank of Italy). ISTAT
surveyed the composition of firm-level bargaining by firm size for the year 1995-96 on a
sample of around 8000 firms with at least 10 employees; while the Bank of Italy (Casadio,
Lamelas and Rodano 2004) conducted a longitudinal sample-based survey (around 1200
firms) on the industrial sector. Tables 7 and 8 in the Annexes set out the main results of the
Table 7 exhibits a trend in company-level bargaining tied to firm’s size. More specifically,
for the period 1995-96 company-level bargaining took place principally in medium-to-
large firms. In both the industrial sector and services, in fact, firms with more than 50
employees represented the largest percentage of those involved in supplementary
bargaining. Table 7 also shows that firm-level bargaining concerned around 40% of firms
in both industry and services, the highest incidence being among firms with more than 50
employees, in both sectors.
Although Table 8 refers to a smaller sample and only to the industrial sector, it
corroborates longitudinally (albeit somewhat fragmentarily) the findings for the period
1995-96. The figures in the first two rows of the table show that the percentage of firms at
which supplementary agreements were signed was markedly higher among those with
more than 50 employees, and also that bargaining coverage was broader for firms in that
size-class as well. By contrast, company-level bargaining was relatively rare among small
firms (note, however, that the figure refers only to 2001), so that the majority of workers in
those firms were not covered by bargaining.
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To conclude discussion of the structure of collective bargaining, we report the main
findings of a survey carried out by Bordogna and Marchetti (2002) which took stock of the
pacts of July 1993 and December 1998.
With regard to the degree of coverage by decentralized bargaining, given the dearth of
recent systematic surveys, these authors report the estimates published by the industry
union federations. The metalworkers’ national-level industry agreement implements the
July 1993 pact by providing for two bargaining levels: a national level which, according to
the federations, does not take account of the major differences within the metalworking
industry; and an in-company level, which according to the union federations covers only
50% of workers (out of a total of 1.7 million). As far as the chemicals industry is
concerned, the national agreement provides for a further two bargaining levels – territorial
and in-company – besides the national one. In fact, however, the territorial level of
bargaining is non-existent, and according to estimates by the confederations firm-level
bargaining covers only 40% of workers. It is widespread in medium-to-large firms but not
undertaken in small ones. Twenty percent of workers in the petrol and energy industry are
not covered by decentralized bargaining.
The bargaining structure in the public sector consists of a national level and a decentralized
supplementary one, which in turn divides into two levels (individual administration, main
or branch office). Decentralized bargaining does not deal with matters concerning pay or
training. Negotiated at decentralized level are issues to do with work organization and
working time. A study on the evolution of decentralized bargaining (CNEL, 2004) reports
the results of a sample-based survey on supplementary bargaining in the public sector
carried out in 2001 by Aran (the agency that represents public-sector workers in bargaining
rounds). These results are interesting because they show that collective bargaining covers
almost all employees of the units in the sample. The Aran survey also shows a correlation
between second-level bargaining and organizational size in the regional and territorial
administrations. Among the civil-service units comprised in the sample, only 1% of those
with more than 50 employees had not signed a supplementary agreement in the period
considered, whereas 8.3% of those with fewer than 50 employees had done so.
Institutionalisation of relationships with the rank and file and among the social partners
A second aspect of the development and structuring of inter-organizational dynamics is the
type of interaction that takes place between the confederations and the rank-and-file. In
other words, now examined is whether and how pacts have involved some form of rank-
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and-file consultation. Also important in this regard is how the rank-and-file has reacted to
the negotiating and signing of pacts.
Table 9 in the Appendix summarizes the methods used to consult the rank-and-file and the
reactions by the latter.
Analysis of consultation procedures and reactions by the rank-and-file yields further
information on the degree of coordination and structuring. Table 9 shows that workers
have not always been consulted. However, the pact of July 1993 marked the point at which
consultation no longer took place subsequently to the signing of a pact (as in 1984) but
prior to it. In the cases of the agreements of 1993, 1995, 1998 and 2007 reactions by the
rank-and-file no longer gave rise to mobilization but at most to voting against the pact.
Workers’ consultation was envisaged neither before nor after signature of the July 2002
Pact. The Cgil called a referendum of workers and organized a series of general strikes. It
then promoted a referendum on extending article 18 of the Workers’ Statute; however, on
this occasion a quorum was not reached.
A further question concerns the degree to which social pacts have influenced the
structuring and institutionalisation of relations among the social partners. This can partly
be determined by observing whether the text of a pact makes specific provision for future
formal meetings to review implementation of the pact, or for consultation of the social
partners when decisions on economic policy are taken.
Table 1 shows the presence in social pacts of pledges in regard to the involvement of the
social partners in policy-making. We have already commented on this aspect, pointing out
that the involvement of the social partners has been envisaged by all pacts since 1992
(excluding the pensions reform of 1995). The 1993 pact provided for assessment of
implementation of its provisions. In regard to the meetings with the social partners
stipulated by this pact, it is generally recognized that the two yearly sessions envisaged
(prior to the economic and financial planning document and to the budget law) have
regularly taken place. The most frequent issue debated at these meetings has been
definition of the expected inflation rate (in the Euro zone). The unions have sought to set
the rate higher in order to take account of real inflation and to obtain broader margins for
negotiation; Confindustria has obviously done the reverse.
Assessment of the implementation of the July 1993 pact has been included in the social
partners’ agenda for the further reason that, in years subsequent to the agreement, the
debate between Confindustria and the unions on the bargaining structure centred on the
efficacy of its two levels. After 1993, therefore, assessment of the pact regularly took
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place: indeed, in 1997 a thorough review was conducted by a committee appointed by the
government and chaired by the former minister of labour (Gino Giugni) who in the July
1993 agreement had played a key mediating role between the social partners. On January
1998 the committee submitted its findings to the prime minister. According to the
committee, the July 1993 Pact did not require alteration, only a revision that would
consolidate the results achieved. The committee made several proposals to this end
(Lavoro e informazione, 1998).
The agreements subsequent to this assessment (the ‘Christmas Pact’ of 1998, the ‘Pact for
Italy’ of 2002 and the ‘Pact for welfare’of 2007) did not specifically incorporate the
proposals made by the Committee. However, analyses of implementation of the provisions
of the social pacts shows the consolidation of one of the bodies proposed by the committee
(and to which the pacts make reference): that is, the joint bodies (enti bilaterali) already
provided for by national collective agreements and cited in social pacts since the second
half of the 1990s.
Analysis of bargaining both in the period 2000-01 (Bordogna and Marchetti, 2002) and
subsequently during 2002-03 and 2004-2006 (CNEL, 2004, 2006) shows the progressive
establishment by national collective agreements of joint bodies with differing tasks and
levels of action (national or territorial) according to the sector. Over the years, these bodies
have been used by the social partners to address the most critical aspects of the industrial
Analysis of national industry agreements in the period 2002-03 and 2004-2005 (ibid.)
highlights the competences of these joint bodies as established by the most recent
agreements. Those signed from 2002 to 2005 set out the tasks of these bodies in some
detail: monitoring, together with other agencies, of active labour market policies; creating
instruments to match the needs of employers and those of workers, setting up observatories
on working conditions, workplace mobbing, safety, and corporate social responsibility;
providing the information required for the development of decentralized bargaining.
3.1.3 The role of governments in concertation
There has always been some degree of ambiguity in neo-corporatist theory as to whether
concertation can be captured primarily as an exchange of material and symbolic resources
between the state and interest organizations (Pizzorno, 1978) --- or even as a ‘mass of
transactions’ extending over a wide range of issues (Crouch, 1993; Marin, 1990) --- or
whether it should instead be conceptualized as the devolution of state authority to the latter
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(Offe, 1981). Even on the second interpretation, however, organized interests have to be
‘compensated’ for their willingness to participate in policy-making (Cameron, 1984), as
this involves costs for them. These comprise material costs for their members, who are
subject to a trade-off between immediate and long-term interests (usually wage restraint
versus welfare benefits and employment creation), and organizational costs in the form of
possible crises of representation. Stability of concertation has therefore traditionally been
considered higher where governments have greater resources to exchange with the social
partners and are more reliable in terms of their ability to deliver them (Regini, 1984).
But governments’ ability to ‘deliver the goods’ decreased everywhere in the 1980s, as
public deficit constraints became more stringent, cutbacks in the welfare state were
recommended by international organizations and rewarded by the financial markets, and
industrial adjustment involving downsizing gainsaid promises of employment growth.
Contrary to the assumptions of neo-corporatist theory, most social pacts in the 1990s have
not seen a return to a compensatory role of governments. What most recent negotiations
over collective bargaining procedures, incomes policies, pension reform and the like have
involved is the devolution of policy-making functions to organized interests (especially to
trade unions) in a framework of regulative rather than redistributive policies (Lowi, 1972).
Hence the process entails an allocation of economic policy authority in a context of
emergency and of basically shared objectives, rather than the exchange of resources
available to the partners.
With hindsight, it is not difficult to see why social concertation of the 1970s and the 1980s,
based on political exchange and on a compensatory role of the state, was inherently
unstable (Regini, 1997). First, because political exchange is a temporally asymmetrical
exchange. Whereas for the state institutions the benefits offered by organized interests ---
benefits which are principally legitimation and self-restraint in their market behaviour ---
have an immediate impact, the reverse is almost never the case. This requires of organized
interests a high degree of trust in the government and makes them vulnerable to ‘crises of
representation’. Second, because political exchange performs poorly in delivering the
expected goods to all the partners, as the implementation of their decisions often depends
on other actors' behaviour. Governments can devise policies favourable to one or all of the
organized interests involved in the exchange, but they cannot ensure that the public
administration will implement them in ways that effectively match the original intention.
And interest organizations, for their part, have a varying but never total ability to guarantee
that their members will comply with the decisions taken.
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Conceiving of concertation as an institutionalization of exchange, then, calls attention to
the unequal distribution (in terms of timing no less than of actual value) of its benefits
among the partners, to problems of trust when some of these benefits can only materialize
in the future, and to the poor performance of this method in delivering the expected goods,
as the implementation of decisions often depends on other actors' behaviour. All these
well-known problems make concertation unstable, as especially the British and the Italian
experiences of the 1970s showed (Regini, 1984).
On the other hand, structuring concertation as a devolution of policy-making functions to
organized interests may work better when it does not primarily involve an allocation of
selective benefits to them (redistributive policies) but rather the solution of urgent and
shared problems (mostly regulative policies). The symbolic components of the trade-offs
between governments and the social partners may well remain crucial; but their
cooperation must not depend primarily on the exchange of economic resources between
them. Governments may then structure their agenda by giving priority to the widely shared
problems (such as reform of bargaining procedures, incomes policies, new rules for public
employment relations, rationalization of the pension system, employment creation
measures) over partisan interests, by devising alternative solutions to them and by calling
on the interest organizations to participate in order to bring their values and preferred
solutions to bear.
3.2 Institutionalisation paths
In this section we will consider the evolution of the social pacts’ contents and their degree
3.2.1 Changing issues of tripartite negotiation
Table 1 in the Appendix sets out the various issues negotiated for each pact, so that their
changes over time can be directly observed.
Three main features emerge from this table.
1. The relatively constant presence of issues concerning incomes policy and employment
policies. However, negotiation of incomes policy is incremental until the July 1993 Pact
and becomes simply confirmatory of previous agreements afterwards. In the recent (2007)
Pact for Welfare, commitments to foster company-level bargaining show a renewed
attention to incomes policy by social partners. On the other hand, employment policies,
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while they are limited to generic pledges in the early ‘90s, get to centre stage with the 1996
Pact for Employment, the 2002 Pact for Italy, and the 2007 Pact for Welfare;
2. Also to be noted is a tendency for the issues negotiated to increase – as shown by the
cells in the row “other issues”. These may concern support for firms, undertakings relative
to tax reform, policies on infrastructures and investment in the South of Italy. The only two
key issues in these cells are the creation of a new works councils structure (the RSU) in
1993 and the reforms of the pensions system in 1995 and 2007.
3. All the tripartite pacts contain commitments by the government to involve the social
partners in policy-making, and a specific timing for the negotiation of economic policy
issues and for the joint assessment of a pact’s outcomes.
In analysing change over time, however, one should also take into consideration that the
overall range of issues which were the object of tripartite negotiation increased
dramatically because of the diffusion of “territorial pacts”, alongside the national social
pacts that we have discussed in Section B, .in the second half of the 1990s. Territorial
pacts, based on formal agreements among local governments, unions and employers’
organizations, and other important local actors – such as banks, universities and various
private participants – were innovative forms of decentralized social dialogue or
concertation, aimed at the consensual planning of local initiatives for economic and
occupational development. Another form of territorial pacts introduced subsequently by
legislation were the so-called ‘area agreements’, especially targeted on less developed
areas with higher unemployment, primarily though not exclusively in Southern Italy.
While intended to mobilize local resources, these latter agreements should have involved
greater wage and labor market flexibility as well; however, sharp divisions among the trade
unions emerged on this sensitive issue. 16
The record of these forms of decentralized bargaining at the territorial level is less
impressive than was originally expected. While several case studies (Bolocan, Pasqui and
Perulli, 2000; Ballarino et al., 2001; Barbera, 2001; Regalia, 2003) have shown stories of
success, the overall attempt to decentralize tripartism and to broaden its scope has been
hampered not just by divisions among unions and by insufficient resources provided by
local institutions. More importantly, employers have in most cases been lukewarm
16 Especially the Cgil has always been concerned that acceptance of substandard conditions as concerns
wages and employment conditions, however targeted to the less developed areas and conceived as
experiments of limited duration subject to monitoring and possible revocation, may end up being a “Trojan
horse” fostering wider deregulation.
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participants and have generally not cooperated actively to ensure success. The main reason
is that they have in most cases seen territorial tripartism as yet another level of bargaining,
at a time when they were becoming increasingly unhappy about the two-level structure of
collective bargaining set up by the tripartite agreement of 1993.
In fact, employers became convinced that the apparently careful distinction drawn by that
agreement - between the issues to be negotiated at the industry level and the ones left to
firm-level bargaining – was not enough to avoid confusion and overlappings. Curiously
enough, in a period in which average real wages in Italy were growing less than in the
other EU countries (largely an outcome of the incomes policy established by the 1993
agreement), shifting to a ‘one level of bargaining only’ 17 system became the most pressing
demand by employers, together with higher labour market flexibility. The rationale was
that the sharp drop in the inflation rate deprived industry-level bargaining of its main
content, while distributional demands stemming from increases in productivity would be
more appropriately dealt with by decentralized bargaining. While employers’ associations
demanded a shift to a ‘one level of bargaining’ system, however, not all employers could
agree on which level was to be retained. Some of them favoured decentralized bargaining
(at the firm level for large and medium companies, or at the territorial level for the small-
firm districts), but others seemed to prefer industry-level bargaining only.
More generally, the main lesson stemming from the more recent attempts at social pacts
seems to be that, as their scope broadens – not just in terms of levels of operation (national,
regional, and even local), but also of issues covered – their effectiveness seems to
decrease. In fact, such objectives as employment creation, training, labour market and
welfare reform, are far more complex and difficult to pursue in a concerted way than
traditional incomes policies. In some cases, enlarging the number of actors involved in
political bargaining and the levels of negotiation, as we have seen can happen with
‘territorial pacts’, may be a tentative solution to this difficulty. But this solution may (and
often does) bring new problems with it, since a game with several actors is harder to play
and the outcome is more difficult to monitor. The contribution of each actor to the common
goal may be less clear to the others, and so too its responsibility for failure or its ability to
advocate success and to capitalize on it.
The outcome of these trends has been a growing loss of enthusiasm by policy-makers and
especially employers for the virtues of social pacts. It has not been difficult for the centre-
17 Namely, allowing for either industry-level collective bargaining or decentralized negotiation, but not for
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right Berlusconi government to capitalize on this widespread feeling and to state that,
while tripartite ‘social dialogue’ remains the preferred method in Italian industrial
relations, their ‘modernization’ must continue even in the absence of the trade unions’
agreement and indeed by overcoming their resistance.
3.2.2 The conditions for institutionalization and its failure
A quick look at table 1 shows that tripartite negotiation in Italy has been a widely used
method in the last 30 years, with a peak, however, in the mid-1990s. Is frequent recourse to
social pacting an indicator of its success or rather of failed institutionalization?
The distribution of social pacts over time shows that the first experiences in the late 1970s
and early 1980s were disappointing and led the actors to abandon tripartite concertation for
quite some time. The two tripartite agreements of 1992 and 1993, however, were generally
greeted as very successful in reaching their goals as well as the latent function to
institutionalize the highly voluntarist system of industrial relations in Italy. This very
success of the ‘method’ of concertation accounts for all actors’ greater willingness to rely
on it as a consensual and effective mode of governance. In 1995, 1996 and 1998 social
pacts were tried again in different policies areas. But their effectiveness declined, and they
slowly turned into little more than symbolic action, indicating all actors' willingness to
cooperate towards the achievement of public goods – until even their symbolic value was
seriously undermined by CGIL’s withdrawal from the 2002 Pact.
We shall now briefly elaborate on this cycle, with the 1993 agreement clearly being the
turning point, to then discuss the conditions for the institutionalization of social pacts that
the Italian experience suggests. On the whole, the reorganization of the bargaining system
undertaken by the 1993 agreement appears to have been successful. At the level of the
system’s general performance, a study of wage dynamics and various macroeconomic
indicators (Birindelli and D’Aloia, 2001) has pointed out the following (see table 2 in the
Annexes): first, that the July agreement contributed to wage restraint by helping to
rebalance the economic accounts; second, that, at the same time, the agreement made it
possible to defend the purchasing power of wages 18 ; third, that the pay differential between
the manufacturing sector and protected ones like the public services and the public utilities
(electricity, gas, water) tended to be reduced; fourth, that business profitability tended to
increase in the 1990s and was particularly high in 1998 and 1999, also because of modest
18 Or at least it did so until 2000, when the resumption of inflation widened the gap between the real and
planned inflation rates on the basis of which wage increases had been fixed by industry-level collective
bargaining since the 1993 agreement.
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increases in the cost of labor, which rose less than productivity; and finally, that wage
restraint contributed to the stability of employment during the first half of the 1990s and
subsequently to its growth. And in fact, according to ISTAT, the National Statistics Institute,
since March 2001 the unemployment rate finally returned to below the 10% threshold.
More generally, in the recent history of labour relations in Italy, the revival of concertation
in the 1990s, and in particular the tripartite agreement of 1993, are widely seen as marking
the beginning of a new phase in which many of the features distinctive of the previous
period have been superseded: i) the low level of regulation and formalization (or the
marked informality) of procedures and of relations among highly organized actors; ii) the
consequent instability and unpredictability of practices and the frequent recourse to
conflict in order to redefine power relations and also to bolster support for the interest
organizations; iii) the frequent and haphazard oscillation between centralization and
decentralization of labor relations and collective bargaining, and the difficulty of
deliberately activating processes of rationalization and reform (reorganization indeed
comes about, and often on joint agreement, but it occurs on an informal and pragmatic
basis and has little visibility and social recognizability).
As a result of the tripartite agreements of the 1990s, labour relations for a while seemed to
be moving in the direction of: i) the greater formalization and explicit definition of shared
criteria, rules and procedures for representation and for the joint resolution of distributive
conflict (incomes policy); ii) greater predictability of practices and the close coordination
of objectives and outcomes, with a substantial reduction of industrial conflict; iii)
definition of a more stable and more orderly two-tier bargaining structure – with a
centralized level and a decentralized level – and the undertaking of a series of significant
reforms (of public-sector employment, of the pensions system, of the labor market) with
the participation of the social partners.
And yet, in the first decade of the new millennium, the system has proved to be less well-
consolidated than foreseen. On the one hand, the factors responsible for the success of
centralized concertation either attenuated or disappeared, and the endeavor to create arenas
for local-level concertation proved more difficult than expected. On the other hand, again
apparent were the shortcomings of weakly institutionalized labour relations substantially
entrusted to the logic of agreement between the parties, rather than being regulated by
stabilizing measures of legislative type (as instead happens in Germany). The electoral
victory of a center-right government in 2001 and then again in 2008 prompted reappraisal
of many of the elements on which the previous equilibrium had been based.
DSLW WP 2/2009
This was not the first time in which tripartite concertation in Italy seemed to be declining
in importance. In fact, it had already entered a period of crisis in the mid-1980s, after a
decade of relative success. And yet, while relationships between unions, employers’
associations and government were permeated by a sense of paralysis and adversarialism at
the central level, at that time a practice of ‘hidden micro-concertation’ grew increasingly
widespread in the periphery of the industrial relations system, especially in large firms
seeking to reorganize themselves and in small-firm areas (Regini, 1995). This was a
voluntarist and negotiated solution to the problem of flexibilizing the rules governing the
employment relationship; in many cases, it was even a genuine, though informal, co-
management of the industrial adjustment that characterized the Italian economy during the
1980s. In several firms, in fact, industrial restructuring was carried forward, not in open
conflict with the unions but in a sort of permanent discussion on the possible solutions to
problems as and when they arose. What arose in the mid-1980s, therefore, was tacit
acceptance of the existence of two distinct spheres of action: that at the central and official
level, which continued to be dominated by difficult and often adversarial relationships; and
that at the local level of the firm or the industrial district, where it was instead the search
for joint regulation, if only informal and voluntaristic, that prevailed.
In the new millennium, however, this dualism between the central and the local level
appears to be far less meaningful. Stalemate at the center can no longer be compensated by
voluntarist joint regulation at the local level.
Drawing on the Italian case in comparative perspective, we will now discuss the conditions
which seem to account for the success of social pacts until the mid-1990s 19 .
3.2.3 Insulation vs. involvement of rank and file
According to neo-corporatist theory, a ‘corporatist mode of interest intermediation’ is
characterized by a high level of organizational centralization and of associational
monopoly. The insulation from rank-and-file pressures afforded by centralization and
monopoly of representation becomes for interest organizations a ‘precondition’ for stable
participation in concertative policy-making (Lehmbruch, 1977). ‘It is mainly those union
leaderships which are highly insulated from membership pressures at the plant level which
can sustain participation in corporatist arrangements for any considerable period of time’
(Panitch, 1977, p. 82). Trade unions, in particular, must be able and willing to shift their
emphasis from representation to ‘intermediation’ of interests; a concept which includes
19 The following two sections largely draw on Regini (1997).
DSLW WP 2/2009
control over members' compliance with the outcomes of concertative policy-making as
much as the articulation of their demands (Schmitter, 1981).
But the more that interest organizations tried in the 1970s and 1980s to achieve these
features in order to become as stable and reliable partners in social concertation as the
Nordic ones, the more they risked a ‘crisis of representation’ which made such
concertation highly unstable. And the governments which tried to foster concertation by
providing greater state recognition and legal rights to trade unions suffering from a
representation deficit (as in France with the legislation of the early 1980s) also failed in
Contrary to this assumption of neo-corporatist theory, social pacts in the 1990s show that
concertation may succeed precisely when interest organizations become less centralized
and less insulated from rank-and-file pressures; and especially when workplace
representation acquires a greater role vis-à-vis the union bureaucracy. The Italian case is
emblematic from this point of view. The tripartite agreements of the late 1970s and early
1980s were made highly unstable by, among other factors, the excessive distance between
the unions' top leadership on the one hand and local officers and the rank and file on the
other (Golden, 1988). However, the agreement signed in 1993, as well as the negotiation of
pension reform in 1994-95 and the pact for employment in 1996, have been accompanied
by the creation of a new system of representation in the workplaces. This made it easier for
the unions to consult their rank and file before signing: a consultation which crucially
contributed to their legitimacy (Baccaro, 2001). In this way, the potential crisis of
representation has been channelled and controlled not by securing a legal monopoly of
representation but by mechanisms for the articulation of voice within, rather than outside
the trade unions. Also, the elections of workplace representatives held during this period
showed an unexpected and overwhelming consensus for the confederal unions engaged in
concertation, and this indirectly reinforced their legitimation to proceed along these lines.
With hindsight, it is not difficult to see why neo-corporatist theory could not explain such
developments. Its traditional assumptions on the need for specific ‘organizational
preconditions’ of concertation were undue generalizations from the features historically
developed by interest organizations in the countries which had established neo-corporatism
in previous periods. Centralization of large interest organizations, insulation from the rank
and file, associational monopoly and privileged access to the state were not features
functionally created to make concertation stable, but the outcome of historical trajectories
especially suited to the Fordist-Keynesian period. With the decline of Fordism and
DSLW WP 2/2009
Keynesianism, however, these features became problematic even for some of the
traditionally corporatist countries (as the Swedish case illustrates). As for attempts by
interest organizations with very different historical trajectories to imitate those features,
these were bound to produce a ‘crisis of representation’ rather than giving stability to
4. Conclusions: the failure of institutionalisation?
In spite of the success that social pacts in Italy had in the 1990s, it is still not clear to what
extent actors are willing to regard concertation as a now institutionalized fact, one not to be
called into question whenever the economic situation or power relations change.
Although extremely important, the tripartite agreement of 1993 --- the high point of the
new concertation wave --- was just an agreement on rules; it was not a social pact which
committed the parties to common views on economic development and its priorities. To be
sure, agreement on the rules may then foster the development of such views and encourage
the emergence of a shared plan of action. Nevertheless, an agreement on rules only
provides a framework; it is not enough on its own to change the pattern of industrial
relations. And there is the risk that it will deteriorate unless filled with new content. By
‘common views on economic development and its priorities’ we do not mean the old trade-
off between employment and productivity; we refer instead to a largely shared conception
of national competitiveness which gives rise to a joint effort for the full development of the
economy and of human resources. Despite the importance of developments in the 1990s,
relationships between employers, unions and state in Italy are still a long way from
accomplishing this goal.
Why are social pacts being questioned, and why have they become increasingly ineffective
in the 2000s in Italy? Probably the main reason is that the goal of meeting the Maastricht
convergence criteria has been achieved, and as a consequence the Italian policy-makers’
ability to mobilize the social partners in pursuit of a shared objective requiring mutual
restraint has decreased. Also, since inflation appears to be more under control in the Euro
zone, the need for an incomes policy of the kind that dominated not just tripartite
agreements but more generally collective bargaining in the previous decade has become
less pressing for both governments and companies. The new imperative for advanced
political economies like Italy’s is to survive the international financial crisis and to
DSLW WP 2/2009
increase their competitiveness in globalized markets. It is difficult to predict the extent to
which policy-makers will be able to translate this imperative into a new national
emergency that again requires cooperative efforts by the social partners.
The end of this decade might see a new differentiation between some economies which
follow a path based on some forms of social accord, and others in which economic
adjustment is pursued more unilaterally. But the two camps may well differ from the
situation in the 1990s, with some countries shifting from one camp to the other, or
temporarily crossing the boundary and then returning to the previous camp.
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of the social
of part of the costof-living
included in the
1978 law on
1979 law on youth
1977 law on
1983 Pact and
Cuts to the wage
Table 1 – Issues covered by pacts
July 1992 Pact July 1993 Pact Pensions System
Abolition of the
suspension of firmlevel
commitment to a
second round of
negotiation on reform
of the bargaining
Pledge to involve the
social partners in the
drafting of the budget
Referral to a second
round of negotiation
on prices and tariffs.
Wage increases pegged
to the expected inflation
rate (and subsequent
adjustment to the real
structure: two levels
(industry- and firm- or
Pledges on measures to
deal with the
active training policies
Provision for two annual
rounds of discussion
with the social partners
on incomes policy
Provision for assessment
of pact implementation.
Creation of the unitary
stricter rules on
of temporary agency
work; reform of the
system; pledges on
the regularization of
contributions and tax
to reduce cost of
Introduction of the
Expected inflation rate
fixed at the average
European inflation rate.
The bargaining system
established by the July
1993 Pact confirmed.
undertakings to create
investments, relief on
contributions to reduce
the cost of labour,
Recognition of the
importance of involving
the social partners in
and the transposition of
Commitment by the
government to giving
greater importance to
assessment (budget law,
but also the national
action plan for
‘Pact for Italy’
Continuation of the July
1992 and 1993 pacts.
of the job placement system;
pledges to reform the social
introduction of new forms of
undertakings to reform
further training; temporary
and experimental measures
to promote regular
employment and the sizegrowth
Recognition by the
government of the
importance of concertation.
Pledge to negotiate the
budget law with the social
Guidelines on tax reform;
pledges on investments in
the South (infrastructures,
fight against crime,
simplification of access to
Pact for Welfare 2007
Incentives for second-level bargaining
(contributory tax relief for production
Reform of social shock absorbers:
universal protection system (regardless
of company size, contract, sector).
Interventions to promote employment of
specific occupational categories: women
(fiscal incentives for part-time and
flexible working hours); young people
(measures giving access to credit; social
security measures to increase social
contributions for pensions)
Abolition of some atypical contracts;
constraints on the duration of fixed-term
Commitment to establish a place where
the social partners can meet and discuss
the reform of the social shock absorbers.
Pensions reform. Eligibility criteria
more flexible and higher benefits
(including for pensions of a charitable
Table 2 – Indicators of economic performance (1977-2007)
INDICATORS 1977 19801990 19911992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007
GDP (% variation) 2.3 3.4 1.9 1.3 0.7 -0.8 2.2 2.9 1.0 2.0 1.7 1.6 3.0 1.7 0.3 0.2 1.2 0.1 1.9 1.4
Import of goods and services (% var.) 1.7 5.0 10.4 1.3 4.7 -10.3 10.2 10.4 -0.9 10.1 8.9 5.6 7.5 0.7 -0.8 0.9 3.1 0.4 4.5 4.2
Export of goods and services (% var.) 8.2 -8.3 7.0 -2.4 6.5 8.0 10.1 12.6 1.1 6.2 3.5 0.3 9.5 2.1 -3.0 -1.7 3.3 -0.3 5.2 5.2
Gross fixed investment (%var) 2.7 3.0 4.0 1.0 -1.4 -10.9 0.1 6.0 3.6 2.1 4.0 5.0 6.9 1.9 1.2 -1.8 2.1 -0.5 2.3 1.2
Household consumption (% var) 4.0 5.7 1.9 2.9 1.3 -2.6 2.2 2.2 0.8 3.3 3.0 2.4 3.1 0.7 0.0 1.1 1.2 0.4 1.6 1.3
Public debt as % of GDP 56.1 95.2 98.6 105 115 121 121 120 118 114 113 109 108 105 104 103 105 106 104
Added value (whole economy - var. %) 2.2 3.1 2.0 1.2 0.9 -0.5 2.2 2.7 1.1 2.0 1.7 1.5 3.3 2.0 0.4 0.5 1.2 0.1 1.9 1.5
Unemployment rate 7.2 7.6 11.4 11.0 11.6 9.7 10.6 11.2 11.2 11.3 11.3 10.9 10.1 9.1 8.6 8.4 8.0 7.7 6.8 7.8
Employment rate 54.4 54.9 53.3 53.3 53.1 53.1 52.2 51.8 52.1 52.3 52.9 53.7 54.8 55.9 56.7 57.5 57.4 57.5 58.4 58.7
Income from work per employee (var. %) 20.5 21.6 10.3 8.7 5.7 4.5 3.0 4.2 6.1 4.0 -1.5 2.5 3.0 3.1 2.5 3.7 2.8 2.7 3.0 1.9
Gross pay per employee (var.%) 24.9 22.1 10.0 9.0 5.1 4.3 3.0 3.7 5.2 3.4 2.7 3.0 3.2 3.5 2.5 3.3 2.9 3.3 2.8 2.1
Labour cost per product unit 1995=100 87.0 94.6 98.4100.8100.2100.0105.2106.1103.2104.4105.3108.5112.1116.3119.5116.0119.1119.4
Retail prices 1995=100 78.3 83.2 87.5 91.4 95.1100.0104.0106.1108.2110.0112.8115.9118.8122.0124.7127.1129.8132.2
Sources: our elaboration on ISTAT and OECD data.
DOCUMENT STATING EXPECTED
Table 3 – Expected and real inflation rates vs bargained and actual wage increases
T 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
DPEF 1992 Amato N.A. 3.2 2.5 3.0
DPEF 1993 Ciampi 4.5 3.5 2.5 2.0
DPEF 1994 Berlusconi 3.5 2.5 2.0 2.0
DPEF 1995 Dini 4.7 3.5 3.0 2.5
DPEF 1996 Prodi 3.9 2.5 2.0 2.0
DPEF 1997 Prodi 2.5 1.8 1.5 1.5
DPEF 1998 Prodi 1.8 1.5 1.5 1.5
DPEF 1999 D’Alema 1.3 1.2 1.1 1.0 1.0
DPEF 2000 Amato 2.3 1.7 1.2 1.2 1.2 1.2
DPEF 2001 Berlusconi 2.8 1.7 1.3 1.0 1.0 1.0
DPEF 2002 Berlusconi 1.7 1.4 1.3 1.2 1.2
DPEF 2003 Berlusconi 2.4 1.7 1.5 1.4 1.4
DPEF 2004 Berlusconi 1.9 1.7 1.6 1.6
DPEF 2005 Berlusconi 1.6 1.5 1.4 1.4
DPEF 2006 Prodi 1.7 1.7 1.6 1.6
DPEF 2007 Prodi 2.0 1.7 1.5 1.5 1.5
Real inflation rate 5.2 4.5 4.0 5.2 4.0 2.0 2.0 1.7 2.5 2.7 2.5 2.7 2.1 2.2 1.9 2.1 2.0
Hourly bargained wage (whole economy -
Hourly actual wage (whole economy - %
Sources: De Novellis, Origo and Vignocchi (2002); CNEL (2004, 2006); ISTAT (2007, 2008).
4.6 2.9 2.2 3.3 4.1 4.4 2.4 1.8 1.9 2.3 2.1 2.2 2.9 3.1 2.8 2.3
5.2 4.3 3.0 3.7 5.2 3.4 2.8 3.0 3.2 3.5 2.6 3.2 2.7 2.8 3.3 2.3
Table 4 – Membership in the three major union confederations 1977-2005 (in thousands)
Total members Members excluding pensioners
Year CGIL CISL UIL TOT CGIL CISL UIL TOT Density%
1977 4.475 2.810 1.160 8.445 49.0
1978 4.528 2.869 1.285 8.682 48.9
1979 4.584 2.906 1.327 8.817 48.4
1980 4.599 3.060 1.347 9.006 3.484 2.508 1.146 7.138 49.0
1981 4.595 2.989 1.357 8.941 3.387 2.371 1.143 6.901 47.6
1982 4.576 2.977 1.358 8.910 3.267 2.287 1.143 6.688 46.2
1983 4.556 2.953 1.352 8.860 3.134 2.224 1.121 6.479 45.2
1984 4.546 3.097 1.345 8.988 3.030 2.262 1.114 6.406 44.9
1985 4.592 2.953 1.306 8.851 2.939 2.056 1.064 6.059 42.0
1986 4.647 2.975 1.305 8.928 2.825 1.967 1.046 5.838 40.3
1987 4.743 3.080 1.343 9.166 2.768 1.951 1.069 5.789 39.9
1988 4.867 3.288 1.397 9.553 2.733 2.018 1.099 5.851 40.0
1989 5.026 3.379 1.439 9.845 2.717 1.993 1.104 5.815 39.5
1990 5.150 3.508 1.485 10.144 2.724 2.023 1.123 5.872 39.2
1991 5.221 3.657 1.524 10.402 2.706 2.070 1.136 5.913 39.1
1992 5.231 3.796 1.571 10.600 2.641 2.107 1.157 5.906 39.1
1993 5.236 3.769 1.588 10.594 2.528 2.007 1.125 5.660 38.5
1994 5.247 3.752 1.594 10.593 2.455 1.909 1.123 5.489 37.8
1995 5.235 3.772 1.579 10.587 2.387 1.853 1.100 5.341 37.3
1996 5.209 3.837 1.593 10.640 2.331 1.836 1.098 5.266 36.6
1997 5.215 3.856 1.588 10.659 2.287 1.776 1.078 5.142 35.5
1998 5.249 3.909 1.603 10.762 2.301 1.739 1.082 5.122 35.0
1999 5.286 4.000 1.621 10.909 2.322 1.765 1.089 5.177 34.8
2000 5.354 4.083 1.628 11.067 2.332 1.773 1.088 5.194 34.2
2001 5.402 4.117 1.628 11.148 2.361 1.783 1.087 5.232 33.7
2002 5.461 4.153 1.651 11.266 2.399 1.788 1.093 5.281 33.3
2003 5.515 4.183 1.697 11.396 2.431 1.794 1.098 5.324 33.1
2004 5.587 4.260 1.740 11.589 2.459 1.832 1.112 5.405 33.5
2005 5.488 4.001 1.670 11.166 2.488 1.848 1.131 5.468 33.0
Sources: Regalia and Regini (1998); Giacinto (2007); ISTAT, Rapporto annuale 2004, Roma.
Table 5 – Rsu election results (1994-1998)
1994-95 (%) 1998 (%)
TOT SEATS 48.7 41.1
TOT VOTES 48.1 36.8
SEATS IN INDUSTRY 39.9
VOTES IN INDUSTRY 36.2
SEATS IN SERVICES 66.7
VOTES IN SERVICES 66.7
SEATS IN PUBLIC ADMINISTR. 51.4
VOTES IN PUBLIC ADMINISTR. 62.6
TOT SEATS 31.1 29.5
TOT VOTES 29.5 23.3
SEATS IN INDUSTRY 29.7
VOTES IN INDUSTRY 23.2
SEATS IN SERVICES 26.7
VOTES IN SERVICES 18.9
SEATS IN PUBLIC ADMINISTR. 35.1
VOTES IN PUBLIC ADMINISTR. 26.2
TOT SEATS 16.6 18.5
TOT VOTES 17.3 17.8
SEATS IN INDUSTRY 18.9
VOTES IN INDUSTRY 18.0
SEATS IN SERVICES 13.3
VOTES IN SERVICES 11.1
SEATS IN PUBLIC ADMINISTR. 13.5
VOTES IN PUBLIC ADMINISTR. 11.1
TOT SEATS 3.6 10.9
TOT VOTES 5.1 22.2
SEATS IN INDUSTRY 11.5
VOTES IN INDUSTRY 22.6
SEATS IN SERVICES 3.3
VOTES IN SERVICES 3.3
SEATS IN PUBLIC ADMINISTR. 0
VOTES IN PUBLIC ADMINISTR. 0
Sources: Osservatorio unitario RSU (for 1998 data); Molina Romo (2004) (for 1994-95 data).
Table 6 – Diffusion of firm-level bargaining (1984-1996)
1994 1995 1996
Propensity % (a) 35.9 19.6 10.1 12.2 22.1
Extension % (b) 54.2 34.5 19.5 26.6 32.8
(a) Percentage of local units where formal agreements have been signed; (b) Percentage of workers
Source: Bordogna (1999).
Table 7 – Firms and employees involved in firm-level bargaining in 1995-96
Firm size Total Involved in
Total Involved in
10-19 77.164 3.335 4.3 968.375 53.493 5.5
20-49 28.263 4.949 17.5 845.382 161.901 19.2
50-199 11.002 4.675 42.5 980.934 464.312 47.3
200-499 1.966 984 50.1 551.216 289.442 52.5
> 500 620 410 66.1 921.811 675.729 73.3
Total 119.014 14.353 12.1 4.267.718 1.644.876 38.5
Column % 60% 51.6%
10-19 53.162 1.244 2.3 636.018 17.807 2.8
20-49 17.102 1.635 9.6 510.072 51.409 10.1
50-199 6.872 1.372 20.0 625.789 135.422 21.6
200-499 1.189 425 35.7 352.611 123.987 35.2
> 500 892 532 59.6 1.872.188 1.231.845 65.8
Total 79.217 5.207 6.6 3.996.678 1.560.469 39.0
Column % 40% 48.4%
10-19 130.326 4.579 3.5 1.604.393 71.300 4.4
20-49 45.365 6.584 14.5 1.355.455 213.309 15.7
50-199 17.874 6.047 33.8 1.606.723 599.734 37.3
200-499 3.155 1.409 44.7 903.827 413.429 45.7
> 500 1.512 942 62.3 2.793.999 1.907.574 68.3
Total 198.232 19.560 9.9 8.264.397 3.205.346 38.8
Column % 100% 100% 100%
Source: ISTAT, Rilevazione sulla flessibilità del mercato del lavoro, Roma, 2004.
TYPE OF FIRM-LEVEL
Table 8 – Diffusion of firm-level bargaining in industry (%)
FIRMS WITH AT LEAST 50 EMPLOYEES FIRMS WITH 20-
End of 1994 End of 1996 End of 1999 End of 2001
Firms Employees Firms Employees Firms Employees Firms Employees
No agreements 14.1 7.5 10.2 5.7 11.6 5.2 66.4 66.4
With no wage
85.9 92.4 89.8 94.3 88.4 94.8 33.6 33.6
0 0 0 0 0 0 10.1 10.1
64.9 35.0 42.7 26.9 25.3 19.7 9.9 9.9
- in fixed sum 60.5 32.7 39.9 25.4 22.3 17.5 8.8 8.8
- tied to
4.4 2.3 2.9 1.5 3.0 2.2 1.1 1.1
21.0 57.4 47.1 67.4 53.1 75.1 13.6 13.6
- of the firm 16.8 47.9 39.0 50.0 n.d n.d n.d n.d
- of the productive
4.3 9.5 8.1 17.4 n.d n.d n.d n.d
- partly variable n.a n.a n.a n.a 31.6 35.3 5.5 5.5
- totally variable n.a n.a n.a n.a 31.6 39.8 8.1 8.1
Total 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100
Source: Casadio, Lamelas and Rodano (2004).
Table 9 – Consultation and reactions by the rank-and-file to social pacts
1983 PACT AND 1984
‘SAN VALENTINO’ PACT
PRIOR TO SIGNING
- After signature of the
Lodo Scotti (1983)
workers. who approved
the confederal strategy;
- After the San Valentino
Pact. general referendum
called by the Communist
Party: result in favour of
REACTIONS BY THE
- Protests by the
Milan. Turin) against the
wage restraint policies
adopted by the
JULY 1992 PACT - Protests by the
autoconvocati and by
factions internal to Cgil.
JULY 1993 PACT - Worker referendum:
30000 assemblies. 1.5
million voters. 68%
approved the agreement.
-Worker referendum: 42000
assemblies; 4.5 million
voters. 64% approved the
‘CHRISTMAS PACT’ 1998 - Referendum held among
workers in January 1999
‘PACT FOR ITALY’ 2002 - General referendum called
by Cgil for extension of
article 18 of the Workers’
‘PACT FOR WELFARE’
- Worker referendum: 5.115
milion voters. 81.62%
approved the pact
- Union leaders contested in
- The protests concerned
the centralization of
decision-making by the
- Dissent only expressed
through the referendum:
workers at some car
factories voted against.
- No protests except during
- Workers in industrial
areas voted against;
- No form of mobilization
against trade-union action.
except for the referendum
- No form of mobilization
against trade-union action
- No form of mobilization
against trade-union action
- Cgil organized a series of
general strikes against the
- Dissent only expressed
through the referendum:
workers at some car
factories and call centres
- No protests except during
Table 10 – Industrial conflict 1974-2006
YEARS NUMBER OF STRIKES EMPLOYEES INVOLVED
1974-79 3185 7803 15460
1980-84 1890 5330 8683
1985-89 1401 1871 2650
1990-94 936 920 1747
846 a 848 a 5514
966 687 6.189
2001 746 1.125 7.182
2002 612 888 6.105
2003 697 907 5.731
2004 745 709 4.890
2005 654 960 6.348
2006 549 417 3.149
(a.) yearly average.
(b.) Since 2000 data are on hours, rather than days, lost.
Sources: Regalia and Regini (1998); ISTAT (various years); Eurostat.