Italy’s conservative parties have stirred up controversy by opposing a suggested minimum wage bill, leading to strong criticism from the opposition. If approved, the bill would have established a bottom compensation of nine euros per hour before tax. The rejection of this proposal has triggered censure from the opposition, alleging that the government is disregarding workers who are grappling with inadequate wages.
Italy currently joins Austria, Denmark, Finland, and Sweden as one of the five EU nations where wages are exclusively determined through collective bargaining. The government has put forth an alternative plan focused on extending collective agreements to around 20% of workers who do not have existing agreements.
Former Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte expressed his disapproval by tearing up a copy of the government’s bill in parliament. Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni defended the decision, warning that setting a minimum wage could paradoxically result in lowered wages. Despite surveys indicating widespread backing for a minimum wage, opposition is coming from small-scale traders, restaurateurs, and farmers who consider it to be overly restrictive.
There are also divisions within the unions, with some expressing discontent with the government’s position. According to OECD data, Italy is the only European country where real wages have declined between 1990 and 2020. The EU introduced non-binding regulations concerning the minimum wage in November 2022.
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