There are so many (Modern) Slaves, millions of millions…

Il Corriere della Sera attacked Beppe Grillo and his book: “Schiavi Moderni” {Modern Slaves} with Pietro Ichino’s editorial on 14 August and with 2 articles today on page 10. Thanks so much.
This book must be really annoying. They make out that I am a stirrer-up of hate, a falsifier. Ichino asks to have a public face to face with me. Let him come to Bologna on 8 September and he’ll have it. Before that however, he needs to mug up on the book. It’s the precarious workers who wrote it, not me. It’s got commentaries by Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel prize winner for Economics, and Mauro Gallegati, a university professor. Do we want to talk about law 30? Do we want to reform labour law? Do we want to sit on our hands and do nothing? It’s up to you. The problem’s still there and sooner or later it’ll explode.
In today’s article called “Precariato Globale” {Global precariousness} in la Repubblica, Luciano Gallino writes: “A first element is the number of people who have a precarious job, either because they have a short term contract, or because they don’t know whether or when they will have another job. According to an estimate to be considered cautious, there are between 4 and a half and 5 and a half million people . Five million people with a precarious job is 20% of those with a job. But these are just the ones who are precarious according to the law, certainly not just because of law 30, but because of an evolution of our labour legislation that started at least with the protocol dated July 1993.”

Professor Gallegati gives his response to Ichino.

“Dear Beppe,
“Schiavi Moderni” was just meant to be a book presenting stories that are unfortunately true, about ordinary precariousness . The current polemics give us to understand that “Schiavi Moderni” is much more than a collection of witness statements: it is the indicator of the bad situation of a whole generation. So even though it is Ferragosto {15 August}, it’s a good moment to try and think about it again.
One organisation that is certainly not very close to terrorism, the OECD, has more than once reminded us that when there is liberalisation of short-term work, such a reform must be accompanied by a reform in the protection of employment , otherwise there’s the creation of a labour market characterized by deep differences between workers with short term contracts with different rights, protections and incomes, especially for those who are young and with fewer qualifications. Furthermore it can mean that the use of contracts creates a negative effect on productivity and professional growth: contract work is often associated with short time frames and fairly limited opportunities for professional growth (and thus for growth in salaries and pensions) or even in training in skills. So basically: without interventions and protection for short-term workers , flexibility is transformed into precariousness with immediate consequences on the life of the individual workers involved and with consequences over a longer period for society.
This latter aspect is not often emphasized. I would like to invite everyone to reflect on this. The discipline of the labour market, if it is aimed only at flexibility, risks setting off undesirable effects, even counterproductive, in relation to those that are set out as the declared objectives. The short-term advantages from different types of temporary employment can be transformed into long term disadvantages, in terms of greater costs for the public health and social security systems, and for the composition of social expenditure. This is because the precariousness of work influences behaviours and life styles that go beyond choices that are strictly economic: for example, when to create a new family unit, have children, take out a mortgage.
It’s the usual problem: if work is flexible, entrepreneurs are more willing to take people on, but without adequate social protection, the risks of the entrepreneur fall on the shoulders of the workers in the short term and on society (or on all of us) in the long term. Are we willing to create such a heavy burden for the future (of everyone) to give an advantage (to a few) today?
Now let’s have a look at what the labour market reforms have produced in Italy. In the last 10 years, 2 million jobs have been created, mainly due to the big increase in short-term contracts and by the regularization of immigrant workers. In the end piece to “Schiavi Moderni” it is pointed out how the use of short-term contracts or part-time employment has “diluted” employment. In fact the number of those employed has increased, the total production has not followed a similar increase. We have the same level of GDP with an equal volume of work. The number of those employed has increased simply because two workers with contracts of 6 months are equivalent to a worker working for a year. And since the cost to the company of 2 short-term workers is less than one regular worker for a year … (don’t worry there is sure to be someone who will have us believe that the person who has a 6 month contract renewed is basically happy to see their precariousness continued).
If the atypical work contracts represent less than 15% of the total numbers employed, 30% of young people have an atypical contract as an employee. The value is three times higher than for other age groups and this is an indication that the “new” jobs are mainly atypical while an analysis of the educational level presents surprising results: the rate of atypicalness is higher for the graduates.
Finally the data on the so-called “precarious trap”, that is the lack of moving on from precarious work to fixed work. Data from ISTAT {Italian National Institute of Statistics}tells us that 55% of the atypical workers have had an atypical contract (work done mainly by workers who started work after 1996). The law 30 tried to regulate atypical work, and among other things, to give discipline to the phenomenon of the (previously with the intention to restrict their use, if they were used as a way of avoiding the legislation that protects labour.
However, in fact, without public intervention to protect atypical work, there has once more been an amplification of the alternatives that the private entrepreneur can use to employ labour, and now there is a range of types of contract, different from full-time and for an indefinite time, part-time work, of a set time, intermittent and distributed. In fact there has been an increase in the choices an entrepreneur can take on staff while nothing has moved on the matter of rights for workers.
If there are neither significant changes in the rate of transformation towards non-precarious work, nor the necessary increases in “real” employment, the new labour market will not be able to maintain the whole system (savings, health, social security and social state). And we can happily do without all that. Thank you for the space.” Mauro Gallegati

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Posted by Beppe Grillo at 09:27 AM in | Comments (3)
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Posted by: JORGE | August 16, 2007 11:12 PM

The question remains on why those entrepreneurs or let’s say employers (maybe the entrepreneur is long dead) do not turn the in a full time regular employment.
I bet is a bloody pain in the neck for the HR to look for new people every 3 or 6 months. So why they do that?
They do that because it is convenient. It is convenient to have cheap labour, that probably is also overqualified for the job. But the sad point is that employers do not really need those short term employees.
They get them because they are on “sale”, discounted, take 2 for the price of 1.
And employers do not need new employees because the economical situation is not that good.
The law itself is like a sales promotion. The goods are the people. Like every sales promotion it may help to sell more goods but ultimately if the market is saturated or if the market is going down, you will not sell anything more.
We really have to face it once and for all. Italian economy is a joke. Most of the companies are not competitive, inefficient, with obsolete structures and almost all of them stay closed in August! Traditionally 50% of sales are done in Italy and 50% in the rest of the world! And Italy is completely absent from many new technology that will surely shape our futures for years to come.
How can you expect to have full employment? And thank God many Italians are abroad…

Posted by: andrea ceccanti | August 16, 2007 08:13 PM

These "precari" are a unch of moaners. Start a little business and see what it is like.

Posted by: rob zava | August 16, 2007 04:22 PM

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