After several years of debate, l‘The European Union has finally reached an agreement to set adequate and fair minimum wages through the development of collective bargaining. The latter indicates contractual agreements and constraints aimed at establishing the parameters of individual employment contracts and the EU directive calls for it to be set for a threshold between 70% and 80% of workers.
Italy is among the 6 Member States – the others are Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland and Sweden – to not yet have a regulation on the subject but is not obliged to implement the Community directive because collective bargaining agreements already cover about 80% of workers. Despite this, the EU commissioner for work, Nicolas Schmit, is confident and believes that the government and the social partners will be able to reach a good agreement to introduce the minimum wage system also in the Bel Paese.
In reality, the Italian political forces are still quite far from finding the right place: if Movimento 5 Stelle and Pd push for an approval quickly, the center-right thinks that the minimum wage is against the Italian cultural history, made up of industrial relations and productivity. Yet a solution must be found: according to INPS data, in fact, four and a half million Italian workers earn less than 9 euros gross per hour, the minimum threshold set by the Catalfo bill, now stopped in the Senate.
Therefore, one could think of introducing an intervention for the remaining 20% of workers left out of collective bargaining and undertake to increase the wages of those two million workers who earn only 6 euros per hour.
It is therefore important that the welfare of each state be respected and that the adequacy of such a measure is assessed also at the legal level and on the basis of numerical criteria (how to behave with contributions, severance pay and thirteenths?) But it is equally important that we begin to reflect on the many precarious contracts that exist and on the inequalities they bring.
To the skeptics, who believe that the minimum wage can increase poverty and unemployment, Schmit responds by saying that, first and foremost, the directive does not aim to stipulate rigid maximum and minimum wages and that in Germany this measure has even increased employment.
If it is difficult to predict future developments now, it can certainly be said that the minimum wage is a potentially important step to ensure a decent standard of living for all and protect the most vulnerable social classes.
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