The Times – Italian discriminatory “race” law – EU citizens wages slashed – denied access to judicial decision.

The Times reported today on Italy’s latest attack – wage cuts  up to 60% – of British and other non-Italian university teachers working in Italian Universities.

I would be happy to know of any Italian worker, in any sector, in any of the other 26 EU member states who has had to sue for the past 20 years to get his/her wages.

I would be happy to know of any citizen working in any of the other 26 EU member states who has been denied access to  judicial review.

David Petrie

Pay cut in half for British lecturers teaching in Italy

PDF format with the kind permission of The Times newspaper The Times Pay cut in half for British lecturers teaching in Italy | The Times

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This entry was posted in ALLSI, David Lidington MP, David Willetts, Discrimination based on nationality in Italian universities, EU, Europe, European Commission, European Parliament, European Treaty, Free movement of workers in EU, Gelmini reform, Italian universities, Italy, UK Government, Workers' rights and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to The Times – Italian discriminatory “race” law – EU citizens wages slashed – denied access to judicial decision.

  1. Tony Lawson says:

    As one of the unfortunate ones (teaching in Catania University), it still seems to me unbelievable that after almost twenty years fighting in the Italian courts to have our jobs recognised both professionally and economically, and after having actually reached a point where these wrongs were finally starting to be put right, we now find ourselves practically back at square one thanks to an out-of-the-blue and totally unjustifiable new law.

  2. sylvie.depietri says:

    What can I add if after 32 years as a French “lettrice” in Bologna my gross pension will be of 688 Euro! The laddie from the CGIL (trade union) thought that there was a mistake…S.Depietri

  3. laurence winter says:

    Yes, it’s true, every month rents have to be paid, groceries purchased, utilities paid, but at this point of humiliation, with nothing else to lose, the only logical counteraction to this disgusting government-decreed, court-sanctioned racist law is a mass resignation of all lettori at every Italian university right smack in the middle of the academic year—no lessons, no exams, no grades posted. Only then will the students in every faculty realize just how important their acquisition of foreign language skills is to their future employment prospects and strike in protest and hopefully close down every Italian university. No lettori, no students, thus no raison d’etre for any university. It’s time both lettori and students learned the game of political brinkmanship.

  4. Tim Longworth says:

    My immediate feeling of personal indignation has been transformed into a
    more focused attack on the powers that be. Italy is not to be represented in this
    way, and the rights of workers within the EU are not subject to negotiation
    at any operational level.

  5. fdelmoralm says:

    Hay muchas cosas que no se entienden del tratamiento que recibimos los lectores y CEL en las universidades italianas. Una de ellas es por qué no se nos reconoce homogéneamente en toda Italia la antigüedad, como se le reconoce a cualquier otro trabajador de la universidad pública. El sueldo de la mayor parte de los colegas no se ha movido durante toda su vida laboral, a otros se nos reconoce solo la antigüedad madurada en la propia universidad, y tan solo a unos pocos afortunados se les cuenta, para actualizar su sueldo, el trabajo desempeñado en cualquier centro universitario nacional.
    A cualquier otro trabajador (personal docente o técnico administrativo) se le reconoce sin problema toda la experiencia laboral en cualquier universidad del país.
    Además, cada contrato local aplica sus propias reglas y estas varían de centro a centro. Las diferencias pueden llegar a ser abismales. Eso no ocurre con profesores, investigadores y personal técnico administrativo.

  6. colin swift says:

    I personally have been working as a ‘lettore’ in Rome (Tor Vergata) for 20 years and the salary I receive now is exactly the same as the salary I received when I started: €930. I began a lawsuit in 1997 and I am now waiting for the court of appeal decision but at this point I imagine it is foolish to believe that anything might come of it since my adversaries – the university – have, thanks to their political connections, the power simply to overturn, by means of legislation targeted at our category, any decision a magistrate might arrive at, if that decision is in my favour . The inconstutional Gelmini law is being challenged but even if it is declared inapplicable by the European Court of Justice, why should any Italian government take notice – it never has – and what is stopping the next Italian government from simply passing another Gelimini when the time is ripe – which will be challenged probably, and years will pass, and maybe we will win again at a European level, but then they will come up with another Gelmini ….and so forth. The question is in how many other democracies can a government – or series of goverments of whatever colour, – get away with this criminal manipulation of the justice system? ‘A citizen has won a lawsuit, perhaps waiting patiently for 15 years, trusting the system, expecting fair treatment? OK, we’ll just change the law and make the change retroactive”. We are dealing with scoundrels, bandits and conmen and these are the individuals running universities, educating the young, preparing generations of young adults for the future. We should be afraid! Very afraid!

  7. arianna jacobs says:

    Italy is a country where the politicians benefit from endless privileges, where laws have been passed to safeguard their privileges and of those who are part of the system. Most italian universities have recruited their teaching staff through nepotism and based their whole existence on giving work only to those who are regarded as part of ‘the family’. Foreign lecturers recruited according to merit have never really been accepted either by the other members of staff or by the administrations of the universities. In spite of the fact many lecturers have won cases in Italian courts against Italian unversities the discrimination continues with renewed vigour thanks to the recent Gelmini law. Everyone talks about the European Union but what ‘union’ are we talking about? I am English and have been a foreign lecturer (lettore) for 25 years, In proportion I earn less than when I first started, and every time I have hoped or vaguely imagined light after the tunnel, I have had to accept that the prospects are as bleak as ever. Is anyone in the European Parliament or in any of the commissions going to do anything about this breach of equal rights for European citizens? Is anyone going to stand up to the Italian bureaucrats and tell them that they can no longer keep giving valuable members of their teaching staff a salary that no other European country would even consider giving their teachers.

  8. rosalind innes says:

    The lettori at the university of the Basilicata have also been part of the 20 year long legal obstacle race to obtain equal treatment and a decent salary.15 months ago we believed we had passed the final hurdle when the university was unable to contest any of our evidence( based as it was on local and European sentences and undeniable facts) in our final court case. However, the university’s response was to call on the infamous Gelmini law which effectively extinguishes our right to legal recourse. The judge referred the matter to the Constitutional Court and we, like many colleagues throughout the country, are still waiting with growing anger and frustation for its verdict which, even if favourable, will certainly not be the last word in this cynical , punitive legal debacle we have found ourselves caught up in. What conclusions can be drawn regarding the state of workers’ rights across Europe as well as the much touted notion of “Europeaness” if a founding member state has not only been unable to integrate a small number of European language teachers into its higher education system over a twenty year period but has subjected them to outright discrimination and treated them wilfully as virtual outcasts ?

  9. Ann Davies says:

    Catania University not only wants to save money by reducing our salaries drastically but we have also had a reduction in staff and some courses just cannot take place, have reduced teaching hours or contain large numbers of students. The teaching of foreign languages is being eradicated slowly, just for economic reasons. It’s no wonder our children are leaving Italy to study and work abroad. They are earning more than their parents!!

  10. ALLSI-Barocco says:

    At the university where I work, many of my British colleagues and I have seen pay cuts of up to 50% this month while Italian staff have not been affected. This discriminatory form of “austerity” is the direct result of Italian government policies that have cynically sought to reverse the concessions it was obliged to make in response to Rulings by the European Court of Justice. Centuries before the EU treaties were signed, the Magna Carta promised that “to no one will we refuse or delay, right or justice”. By first obliging the lettori to seek their rights via Italy’s sclerotic legal system (a process that can take literally decades) and then, after years of litigation, deciding that they can’t sue after all, the Italian government has managed to both refuse AND delay justice.

  11. John Young says:

    @Tony Lawson – I’m not sure I’d call the Gelmini Law ‘unbelievable’. Racist, discriminatory, unconstitutional, despicable, sure. But no more than what you’d expect from a State that for 20 years under Berlusconi has seen exploitation of its own dysfunctional legal system turned into the fine art of ensuring impunity. Italy and its universities have let the Lettori issue drag on for nearly 30 years, in contempt of Italian and Community law. They want us worn down in the courts, retired or dead (how many so far, I wonder? – 2 colleagues in Milan have died already before seeing the end of their interminable court cases). A few Lettori were at last gaining some kind of redress, at least on paper (after all, there is a LAW on the Statute book, No. 63/2004, which only needs to be applied by the rogue Universities such as Milan for this whole business to be settled). So what could they do but come up with the Gelmini Law? Yes, it’s grotesque, but it’ll waste more years of our lives, wear a few more people down, see even more Lettori retire or die, and that’s what they want. The only thing which would change their minds is serious political and economic pressure from the other Member States whose citizens are being thus mistreated, and from the European Commission in the form of another infringement proceeding. Hello, Brussels! – is there anybody there who cares about the future of the European project?

  12. María José says:

    ¿Qué puedo decir? Llevo trabajando en Milán 23 años, tengo 50 años soy filóloga (término griego que significa literalmente “filo” “amante” “logos” palabra, una licenciatura en filología moderna en España de la duración de 5 años, he estudiado inglés en la Salford University y realizado allí un curso de traductor e intérprete simultáneo; mi lengua madre es el español, pero también hablo el italiano, el inglés y el alemán también he residido y estudiado 4 meses en el Goethe Institutut di München (Bayern).
    He publicado, escrito libros para aprender el español y participado en proyectos de investigación también financiados por la CEE (Socrates-Minerva).
    No lo digo para resultar arrogante, sino para que si alguien en el REINO UNIDO o en el PARLAMENTO EROPEO Comprende mi lengua, sepa que para el ESTADO ITALIANO, mis competencias no son suficientes y me merezco ganar €1150 SIN bienios y SIN profesionalidad acumulada porque mi salario está congelado desde que entré a trabajar en la Universidad italiana. Envidio a los lectores de lengua madre italiana que trabajan en mi país España porque allí los respetan como ciudadanos europeos y tienen los mismos derechos que mis colegas lectores de inglés, alemán, francés, polaco o ruso y tienen los mismísimos derechos que el resto de profesores españoles que trabajan en las universidades españolas. ¿Para qué sirve el Parlamento Europeo, sus europarlamentarios, sus comisarios, sus secretarias y sus…. de todos las naciones europeas si no hacen absolutamente NADA para que Itala siga inventando excusas para no respetar los tratados de libre circulación de trabajadores? Si alguien tiene una respuesta concreta, por favor que se ponga inmediatamente en contacto con nuestro representante ALLSI, David Petrie porque hay un montón de lectores españoles como yo, hartos de algunos eurodiputados que dicen que nos representan y en cambio cobran unos sueldos que no son los nuestros por un trabajo exclusivamente demagógico hecho de sólo “bla-bla-bla”, sólo palabras, soltanto parole, only words, nur worte. La indignación , la rabia, la impotancia ha tocado fondo e Italia sigue impunita; en las universidades italianas están haciendo literalmente “lo que quieren” desde Milán, pasando por Cassino, Catania, Lecce…¿Es posible que no presten atención a una escandalosa forma de violación de los derechos de los trabajadores? Quedo en espera de una respuesta concreta, no de largas, nuevas peticiones al Parlamento y otras vergonzosas formas de burocracia europarlamentaria. Buenas noches a todos!! María José

  13. I Gavin says:

    I have been a” lettore “at Salento University, Lecce for 25 years and I have just had my salary halved by a tuppence ha’penny administration that is as wicked as it is incapable. As John Young and Colin Swift rightly mention, the people running many of the nation’s universities are simply evil conmen. Over the years, Italian politicians ministry officials and university administrators have had a simple game plan to frustrate, hamper and waste time. They want the lettori to either die or get so fed up with fighting in their courts that they just give up and go away. To top it all, the double whammy – the pitiful Gelmini law. They cheat us by bringing in a half-baked law that even takes away our right to fight in the courts. And Europe, good old Europe stands back and does nothing. What a joke! Why has Europe let Italy off the hook on workers’ rights, surely one of the pillars of the European Union?
    For the umpteenth time I will repeat the message to the EU Commission and to the British government. The treatment of foreign lecturers in Italy is discriminatory and racist and we are not being protected. A Law exists (63/2004) but it is not being applied. Please get this mess sorted out by applying economic and political pressure and opening new infringement proceedings against Italy.

  14. Steven Guttenbrrg says:

    Decades of successfully providing false, incomplete and misleading data to our spineless European institutions doesn’t make me especially optimistic that anything will ever change in this rogue state.

  15. David McAllister says:

    As Mr Berlusconi has proved, if you have the power to change the laws, as all Italian governments have, the Italian judicial system will not necessarily provide justice. As our numbers decline due to death and retirement, those of us still teaching but who are approaching retirement with a paltry pension (see Sylvie De Pietrie above) can only appeal once more to Europe to take action to force Italy and its universities to apply already existing laws and sentences to end discrimination against the lettori.

  16. Robert Coates says:

    There is no rule of law in Italy only rule of power. A judge in Brescia ruled that the Gelmini law had no basis in Italian law let alone European law and awarded some lettori at the University of Brescia us damages – with immediate effect. What did the university do? It igonored the judgment. We are now waiting for the bailiffs to take the money from the university’s account.

  17. Susanna Dubosas says:

    These desperate cases suggest that the best thing in fiction that the Europeans ever did was to create the European Union! It’s perfectly logical that a European bureaucrat sitting in Brussels can have no real understanding of the devious and sophisticated machinations used by the Italian establishment to prevent foreign language teachers from obtaining justice. I don’t understand why the powerhouse of Europe, doesn’t take any action in defence of German citizens working as lettori in Italy.

  18. J. Flynn says:

    Today at the University of Salento one of our colleagues handed in his resignation. He’s simply had enough of the endless court cases to get his basic rights recognized, he’s had enough of the mobbing, the psychological warfare, the discrimination and now this last humiliation of seeing his pay packet cut in half for refusing to accept a contract that would extinguish everything that we’ve worked for over the past 30 years. Like all of us, he’s simply had enough!

  19. Christopher Burchett says:

    David Cameron has openly declared his determination to overturn the long-standing discrimination against foreign lecturers. This is because he recognizes the fact that the ludicrous Gelmini law strikes at the core principles of the single market,
    His assurances have been backed up with interventions by his coalition ministers and have earned the PM and his colleagues the gratitude of all foreign lecturers in Italy.
    However, two years on from his original pledge, I can only trust that the GB representatives have learned what 25+ years of bitter experience have taught us all as lecturers, namely.. that ‘having a quiet word’ with representatives of the Italian state is a futile enterprise. Our adversaries, irrespective of party affiliation are characterized by their speciousness and wholly united in their contempt for the very notion of ‘rule of law’.
    The only way of bringing their intransigence to an end is through the IMPOSITION of a fine substantial enough to deprive them of their motive.

  20. Susan Perzolli says:

    Clearly, we lettori at Bergamo University were only the northern tip of the iceberg. Now Catania and Salento. Who’ll be next?

    In April 2008, after fourteen years in litigation, our salaries were finally brought in line with those of other Italian university teachers as the result of a court ruling. We thought justice was finally being done, and that all the time, effort and money that we’d been putting into our court case was finally paying off. Alas, this sense of justice was short-lived. Very short-lived, indeed: only 3 years. In April 2011, the University promptly used the made-to-measure Gelmini Law to slash our salaries by up to 60%. Needless to say, with an utterly devastating effect on our lives. Back to square one. Back to being paid a pittance and denied a salary we are legally entitled to, certified by Italian courts and negated by Italian universities, with the backing of an Italian law.

    Not only has the Gelmini Law wiped out our salaries, it also wiped out our right – the right of a group of non-Italian nationals – to seek redress in the Italian courts, something no country which calls itself a democracy should tolerate, and which no union of democratic countries should tolerate, either. The EU would prefer the matter to be sorted out locally without having to intervene directly, but surely the time has come for direct intervention. If the EU does actually exist in practice, that is, and not just on paper. After all, if parity of treatment and freedom of movement for workers within the EU doesn’t exist for language teachers, then who can it exist for?

    The Gelmini Law is simply the last in a long line of very similar laws. In a quarter of a century, we’ve seen our rights constantly bypassed by ad-hoc measures taken by successive Italian governments – left as well as right – which appear to comply with European law against discrimination, but in actual fact evade its implementation.
    All previous Italian governments have ever done is simply sidestep the issue and play for time to drag things out the duration of the current government in order to pass the buck on to the next. In the meantime, we’ll get rid of a few more of these nuisance-making foreigners who’ll either retire or run out of money to pay legal fees or simply die. The only difference now is that there is no next government to pass the buck on to. And probably won’t be for some time. Perhaps we should ask President Napolitano to appoint an eleventh ‘wise man’ (or even a ‘wise woman’, perhaps) to examine the unsolved lettori issue?

    By the way, of the seventeen lettori at Bergamo involved in litigation, only 7 are still working: 8 have retired, 1 has got another job and 1 has died. It rather looks like Italy’s policy so far is working, isn’t it?

    Susan Perzolli
    University of Bergamo

  21. Silvio ferrari says:

    Il paradosso è tutto italiano: aderire a parole alla giurisprudenza dell’Unione Europea e nei fatti negare e violare l’adempimento delle sentenze della Corte di giustizia dell’unione Europea in particolare quando si tratta dei Lettori delle Università italiane, una categoria costituita in larghissima maggioranza da cittadini stranieri. L’importante per i politici italiani è perseverare nella ingiustificata discriminazione dei diritti dei Lettori rispetto agli altri insegnanti delle Università italiane.

  22. Richard Prescott says:

    The injustice suffered by foreign language teachers (lettori) in Italian universities has gone on far too long. The “Gelmini Law”, which “extinguishes” people’s rights to have their grievances heard in a court and arbitrarily annuls legitimate court rulings, is totally unacceptable. There is no chance that the Italian government will ever recognize the rights of the lettori unless there is pressure applied from other European governments and from appropirate European institutions.

    Richard Prescott
    University of Bergamo

  23. kohlmargit says:

    Sono stata la prima vittima della legge Gelmini. Sono contenta del primato! Grazie a questo primato durante la mia terza causa in primo grado (iniziata nel 2008 e conclusasi sempre in primo grado dopo 3 anni nel 2012) il giudice non ha nemmeno più riconosciuto tutte le mie sentenze passate in giudicato e quella in Corte di Cassazione italiana che mi assegnavano uno stipendio pari a quello del professore associato a tempo definito. Così come non ha preso in considerazione le sentenze della Corte di Giustizia Europea. Tutto cancellato grazie alla legge Gelmini. 23 anni di cause annullate! Però non bisogna lamentarsi troppo! Mi è stato concesso di andare in appello. Sono fortunata! Data del appello? Novembre 2014 – due anni dopo il giudizio di primo grado.
    Peccato che nel Maggio del 2015 per motivi di età dovrò andare in pensione.- Dunque 3 anni per il giudizio di primo grado + 2 anni per avere l’appello. Tra giudizio di appello e Corte di Cassazione per un giudizio definitivo quanto tempo ci vorrà secondo voi??? Quando uscirà una sentenza??? Nel 2020?? Nel 2025 Forse??? Una sentenza post mortem forse??? Non sarebbe la prima volta- almeno a Milano.
    Se le autorità europee e gli atri stati europee che hanno mostrato un assenza quasi totale e vergognosa nei confronti dei propri cittadini e non soltanto il Regno Unito al quale tutti noi dobbiamo moltissimo non comprenderanno che soltanto con delle multe salatissime e degli imposizioni precise e non interpretabili con interventi machiavellici da parte del parlamento italiano i lettori di madrelingua straniera in Italia potranno ottenere i propri diritti non si arriverà mai ad una conclusione.
    Inutile sperare nei politici italiani con passato in politica europea! Ricordate il déjà vu di qualche anno fa????
    Nessun politico italiano pagherà mai un centesimo ai lettori di madrelingua straniera di sua volontà!
    Ci vogliono imposizioni rigidissime! 30 anni di speranze perdute dovrebbero insegnare qualcosa anche ai più ottimisti in Europa non vi sembra?
    Il senatore a vita Giulio Andreotti pare una volta abbia detto, almeno così mi è stato riferito:
    2 cose fanno paura agli italiani: dovere pagare con il proprio denaro e dover andare in galera.
    Autorità europee!! Prendetelo in considerazione quando dovete deliberare su di noi!!!

  24. Maryse Duclou says:

    Depuis plus de 20 ans, nous connaissons des hauts et des bas mais toujours soutenus par les autorités britanniques qui ont œuvré sans relâche à nos côtés. Moi, française, je ne peux pas en dire autant, hélas, de nos autorités, contactées il y a des années et qui n’ont pas jugé bon d’appuyer nos revendications. Dans un élan d’optimisme, nous venons de réitérer notre demande de soutien auprès de l’Ambassade de France à Rome.
    Il est vrai que notre histoire est très longue, tortueuse, coûteuse, mais faut-il pour autant accepter la discrimination ? Nous avons mesuré, enduré la lenteur de la justice ainsi que la difficulté à obtenir satisfaction ; la loi Gelmini nous a renvoyés à la case départ et l’âge de la retraite approche …

    Maryse Duclou
    Université de Vérone

  25. Sofia Claybourne says:

    Sono figlia di una lettrice e ciò significa non poter andare in vacanza, non poter andare in gita con la propria classe scolastica, non poter praticare il mio sport preferito e non avere le cure mediche di cui ho bisogno. Io e i miei fratelli siamo cresciuti in questo regime, ma ci sarà un uscita da questo tunnel. Secondo me la situazione poteva essere risolta in breve tempo poiché nelle lezioni di mia madre ci sono gruppi di 50 studenti. Casa mia é come un’accademia in cui nostra madre ci ha sempre ampliato la nostra cultura, ma non possiamo realizzare i nostri progetti e studi.

    Sofia Claybourne

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