In mid-February 2017, the Italian government adopted a reform of the unemployment aid scheme called DIS-COLL. With the adoption of the “Milleproroghe” Decree, PhD students who receive grants and researchers hired under short-time contracts can now benefit of temporary unemployment aid – a novelty for individuals conducting research under precarious conditions. This, however, involves a higher contribution to the social security fund from their net salary.

The campaign, which led to the reform of the employment aid scheme, was organized by FLC-CGIL and the Italian Union of PhD students, ADI. It was named #perchénoino (Why don’t we? / For Us Too) and used assemblies, informative meetings, demonstrations, flash-mobs and a complex communicative campaign as well as intense lobbying activity on national representatives to achieve this goal.

According to data provided by the Italian unions, Italian universities and research institutes employ a high number of individuals under precarious conditions. Estimations assume that up to 54 000 people carrying out teaching and research activities are working in precarity. The number of precarious workers has steadily risen since 2008, due to a series of reforms in Higher Education and Research governance and careers, to budget cuts and turn-over limits that have affected the whole public sector in Italy.

Alessandro Arienzo, National coordinator of the University Sector in FLC-CGIL and vice-president of ETUCE’s Higher Education and Research Standing Committee, comments on the reform: “While the impact of this norm may appear somehow limited for the single worker, it had a positive political impact on workers: being the first initiative of this nature being taken by the government under the pressure of Unions and researchers associations.”

ETUCE congratulates the Italian union to this success. ETUCE has repeatedly stated that researchers in higher education and especially early stage researchers should enjoy fair and attractive conditions of employment with a special view to remuneration and social benefits.

For more information, please, visit FLC-CGIL’s website: www.flcgil.it