|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||09/11/95, Volume 1, Number 08|
FOREIGN language teachers at Italian universities are accusing the country's authorities of continuing to operate discriminatory staffing policies in defiance of a European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling and criticism from MEPs.
Representatives of non-Italian EU citizens teaching at 19 universities are petitioning the European Parliament to complain about Italy's refusal to give them equal status with Italian lecturers and the inferior maternity leave conditions they receive.
In a letter to European Parliament President Klaus Hänsch, David Petrie, a professor at Verona University and chairman of the committee for the defence of foreign lecturers, writes: “Would it be possible for you to ask the Italian government to make a gesture of goodwill towards the Union by immediately recognising the rights of foreign EU lecturers in Italy, thereby demonstrating political will and commitment to the Union?”
The foreign lecturers have identified 19 women from Spain, Germany, France and the UK who are arguing that their legal rights under Article 48 of the Treaty of Rome are not being respected as their maternity benefits are 20&percent; lower than those of their Italian colleagues.
Linda Armstrong, a university lecturer at Bologna is expecting a baby this week. She explains: “Italian legislation on the rights of working mothers guarantees them not less than 80&percent; of their salary during their five months' compulsory maternity leave. What happens is the state pays 80&percent; and employers usually make up the 20&percent;.”
But the foreign language lecturers are complaining that, unlike their Italian colleagues, they do not receive that 20&percent;. They are also warning that continued discrimination might undermine attempts by various Italian cities to be selected as 'culture capital of Europe' in the year 2000.
The new dispute over maternity benefits comes on top of the longer running battle about the status of foreign language teachers, who are employed on private law contracts. Italian nationals come under public law and benefit from preferential conditions of employment, particularly on pensions and social security.
The ECJ has twice ruled against Italy, maintaining that EU restrictions on the freedom of movement allowed in the public service are not permitted in public education establishments. In a resolution adopted in July, MEPs called on Italy to respect the acquired rights of foreign language teachers and urged the Commission to ensure equal treatment between similar teachers and university lecturers in the place they work in each member state.
Petrie and his colleagues are now arguing that the law the Italian government introduced in June aims to downgrade them to the level of administrators and technicians, and does not respect their acquired rights. In a letter to British Socialist MEP Hugh McMahon, the lecturers state “some lecturers have signed under duress; threats of mass sackings are commonplace”.
|Subject Categories||Employment and Social Affairs, Politics and International Relations|
|Countries / Regions||Italy|