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Domestic Workers Worldwide: Four Collective Bargaining Models

Domestic Workers Worldwide: Four Collective Bargaining Models

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by IDWFED published Mar 13, 2007 12:00 AM
Contributors: National Domestic Workers Alliance
National Domestic Worker Alliance (USA) study on collective bargaining models from Germany, Switzerland, Uruguay and France.

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Research reports, working paper

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Agreements:

National Domestic Worker Alliance (USA) study on collective bargaining models from Germany, Switzerland, Uruguay and France:

Italy: The national collective agreement for domestic workers 

In February 2007, trade unions and employer organisations reached agreement on a new national collective agreement for domestic workers in Italy. The agreement defines a new professional classification for workers, introduces new regulations concerning working hours and provides for safeguards in the event of illness, while creating a supplementary pension fund.

In Italy, some 600,000 people are employed as domestic workers, the great majority of whom are non-EU nationals. This category of workers includes a large number of family members who are engaged in care-giving roles; domestic work also gives rise to irregular working arrangements carried out by non-EU nationals who are not legal residents and who are therefore working illegally. In fact, some reports estimate that 1.2 million workers are involved in providing domestic services to individuals.

On 13 February 2007, after two years of negotiations, the sectoral trade union organisations and employer organisations representing domestic workers signed a new national collective agreement. Signatories on the trade union side were the three unions affiliated to the three main trade union confederations, the Italian Federation of Service, Commerce and Tourism Operators (Federazione Italiana Sindacati Addetti Servizi Comerciali Affini e del Turismo, Fisascat-Cisl), the Italian Federation of Commerce, Tourism and Service Workers (Federazione Italiana Lavoratori Commercio Turismo e Servizi, Filcams-Cgil), the Italian Tourism, Commerce and Service Workers' Union (Unione Italiana Lavoratori Turismo Commercio e Servizi, Uiltucs-Uil), and Federcolf. On the employer side, the Italian Employers' Federation of Domestic Labour (Federazione Italiana Datori di Lavoro Domestico, Fidaldo) and the National Employers' Association of Domestic Labour (Associazione Nazionale dei Datori di Lavoro Domestico, Domina) signed the agreement.

Content of agreement

New definition of tasks

A new feature of the agreement concerns the classification of workers. Four levels of classification have been introduced, each of which is broken down into two pay scales, the greater of which is called the 'super' scale. Redrawing these parameters and the definition of the job descriptions was necessary in order to respond to changes within the sector and, in particular, to enhance the professional nature of the tasks assigned to homecare providers.

Three schedules of working hours have been established as follows:

  • a maximum of 54 working hours a week for live-in assistance to family members who are not self-sufficient;
  • a limit of 40 hours a week for live-out assistance;
  • a maximum of 30 hours a week for part-time, live-in assistance to self-sufficient individuals.

Moreover, it will now be possible to hire workers on a 'job sharing' basis, which will permit the use of two or more workers for a single job.

Pay elements

The average salary increase for domestic workers will be €170, with 50% of this increase being introduced from 1 March 2007 and the remaining 50% from 1 January 2008. The agreement also stipulates the amount of contribution payable to the supplementary pension fund as 0.55% of workers' salaries and as 1% of a contribution by employers. At the same time, a sickness fund is to be established. For both funds, the parties are set to devise and finalise a specific set of rules no later than 30 April 2007.

Maternity cover

In relation to safeguards for workers, the agreement calls for increased guarantees regarding maternity cover. Indeed, the same safeguards provided for workers in other private sectors are extended to also cover domestic workers, particularly in relation to the ban on the termination of employment contracts during pregnancy.

New observatory

The agreement provides for the establishment of a bilateral body to govern the category of domestic workers; half of this body will be composed of employer representatives and half of worker representatives. The bilateral body will serve as an observatory, devoting itself to analysis and the study of trends in the industry, as well as promoting initiatives with regard to training and professional qualification.

Commentary

The trade unions were largely satisfied with the agreement. However, they regretted the exclusion of domestic workers from the obligation, on the part of the employer, to obtain validation by the public inspectorate for a pregnant worker's spontaneous resignation - an administrative tool that is essential if abuses are to be avoided. To bridge this void, the worker representatives have committed themselves to promoting 'every possible useful initiative', particularly considering that this category of workers includes a high percentage of female workers, with a large proportion being of child-bearing age.

Source: European Industrial Relations Observatory on-line: http://www.eurofound.europa.eu/eiro/2007/02/articles/it0702079i.html

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