Friday, November 29, 2013

Italy: After Years of Ignoring Action, Expat Lecturers at Italian Universities Hope for Pay Parity

According to The Telegraph, the Italian government has indicated it will finally tackle discrimination against expat lecturers at its universities after three decades of inaction.

María Chiara Carrozza, the education minister, and Emma Bonino, the foreign minister, are reportedly "looking for a solution," hopefully in fewer than 33 years since the European Court of Justice first ruled that the foreign lecturers – known as lettori – are treated unfairly in terms of rights and compensation. 

Five other court rulings have followed, yet many Italian universities have simply ignored them. Further lawsuits over the matter were blocked by a controversial law that came into force in 2011. 

Known affectionately as the Gelmini Law, presumably after a former Italian education minister which interestingly overturned the European Court rulings, redrew the terms under which the lettori are employed, and neutralized further lawsuits from even moving forward.

COMMENT: David Petrie, 64, a Scottish lecturer who has been campaigning on the issue, and David Lidington, the UK Minister for Europe, have described the likelihood of Italian action as "encouraging." 

Petrie has provided the European Commission with information concerning 91 non-Italian lecturers who have suffered pay cuts of up to 60%. 

Petrie, who hails from Dumbarton and teaches English at the University of Verona, also detailed those who have had their court cases extinguished by the Gelmini law. This, he argues, has violated their human rights. 

The campaign suffered a setback in September when Armindo Silva, the EC’s director for employment, social legislation and social dialogue, said he’d found no evidence that would allow action against Italy for breaching EU law. 

Silva told Petrie in an official letter that he intended to close the file, but gave the lettori four weeks to provide any information that could change that position.

The Association of Foreign Lecturers in Italy, which is headed by Petrie, sought three expert legal opinions to counter Silva’s decision, at which point David Petrie presented these opinions to the Petitions Committee of the European Parliament. 
"Our lawyer has provided a further 17 pages of evidence and analysis and we have asked for a face-to-face meeting to further assist the Commission in discharging its burden of proof," Petrie asserts.

Lidington has previously denounced Italy’s behavior as "immoral and illegal. "He can now report encouraging signs from Italian Ministers Bonino and Carrozza. Additionally, the British, French, German, Irish and Spanish embassies are now taking a keen interest and cooperation has begun among the embassies in Rome," emphasizes Petrie. 

According to THE ITALIAN INSIDER: "Italy’s education minister María Chiara Carrozza has instructed her director general to seek a solution and search for some initial funding to compensate hundreds of foreign lecturers subject to discrimination in pay under the Gelmini law." 

This report will be updated as THE TELEGRAPH reports new information.