Public transport workers in Italy are on strike today to demand negotiations on a national sectoral collective agreement for public transport workers. The action of ETF affiliates FILT-CGIL, FIT-CISL, UILTRASPORTI is a result of the employers’ organisations’ refusal to negotiate the renewal of the agreement that expired on 31 December 2017. The unions are also calling for a more resilient public transport sector that ensures adequate and efficient levels of service.
In 2020, the negotiations on the renewal of the agreement were initially disturbed by the COVID-19 pandemic. At the request of unions, a meeting was called for 10 December 2020 to restart the negotiations. Just before the meeting the employers’ organisations Asstra, Agens and Anav declared that the economic framework does not allow companies to negotiate a new agreement.
Previous cuts to the financing of local public transport in Italy had already led to the weakening of the sector long before the start of the pandemic. COVID-19 cannot be used as an excuse to avoid adjusting workers’ remuneration levels and regulatory protections.
As the Italian government recently proposed recovery funding for local public transport, it is only fair that part of these resources, when approved, is allocated to improve the situation of the sector’s key asset, the workers.
Additionally, the current situation goes against the EU agenda on greening transport and fostering a modal shift. To increase the resilience of urban public transport, we need a well-structured and organised sector with a stronger workforce free from precarious working conditions.
The struggle for better conditions for public transport workers has also been ongoing in other parts of Europe. Last year in September German workers went on strike over the employers’ refusal to enter into collective bargaining for a national sector collective agreement. Following the strike ETF affiliated ver.di managed to sign 11 agreements that will improve conditions for thousands of workers.
Strong and resilient local public transport is essential for sustainable urban mobility and investing in people and their working conditions is one of the key elements to ensure it. The example from Germany shows that constructive negotiations are possible even during the ongoing pandemic.
The European Transport Workers’ Federation and its affiliates stand in solidarity with the Italian workers in these difficult times. Public transport workers have been working on the frontlines throughout the pandemic and must not be refused the decent pay and safe working conditions they so clearly deserve.
Support has been pouring in from unions all over the world: EVG, KPTU, RTBU, Solidarność