Work, there is a boom in contract renewals: from chemistry to mechanics, all the increases are on the way

The role of the Pact for the factory

The rules given in 2018 through the Pact for the factory, shared by Confindustria and Cgil, Cisl and Uil, have certainly helped to find solutions and to open reflections on the centrality that contracts for the sectors must have. The agreement created a system of rules which, for the first time, were not aimed at compressing wages tout court. But to imagine a different distribution of the increases that did not overload the minimums too much. In fact, it provides for an exercise, which perhaps not everyone has done, not without splits on the employer front, which indicates the contractual minimums as minimum remuneration, basing the calculation of the increase on the IPCA (the price index, net of energy costs imported). In this way, the different sectors, in the event of the imposition of a minimum wage, could have told the legislator that they had already built their own minimum wage through bargaining and could have avoided the escape from the contract that took place in the countries where it is the minimum wage was introduced. The Pact for the factory was born with the aim of defending collective bargaining and with the spirit of making the parties very responsible for this goal. At the same time, the Pact has provided that all welfare and economic institutions that do not fall within the minimums enter the overall remuneration, where no limits have been set.

The increases

Both during the lower inflationary phase and during the higher one, considering the contractual renewals signed since 2018, the year of the Pact for the factory, Confindustria estimates an average increase in contractual wages of 4.9% in the three-year period 2018-2021. In the same period, inflation, measured in the final balance by the IPCA, net of energy, also considering the final balance in 2021, was 2.8%. The wage increase therefore seems to be higher than that of prices, and according to the calculations of the latest report by the Confindustria Study Center, in the period between 2015 and 2020, the gap between wages and price trends was a + 5%. Confirmation of this aspect comes from the latest Bank of Italy bulletin which extends the period considered and explains that in the last decade, in the face of a prolonged weakness in inflation, the expected value for the IPCA has always been consistently higher than that achieved. The system of ex ante increases, adopted by most of the contracts, which provides for data increases based on forecasts and then verification of the differences in the final balance, has however ensured that even if the contracts provide for the more or less explicit recovery of this difference, this it has almost never occurred, due to the tensions that are opening up especially on the trade union front, as has happened, a couple of renewals ago for Rubber Plastic, for example. If anything, it is the case of chemicals and pharmaceuticals, different solutions have been used, the so-called shock absorber Edr in which to place the difference, but without touching the wages which, by recovering the negative difference, would have been reduced. In the case of metalworkers, on the other hand, an ex post calculation is used, based on the values ​​over and over reached by the IPCA, with a safeguard clause according to which if the real inflation measured by the adjusted IPCA is higher than the agreed figures, the minimum will be adjusted to the resulting amount. Finally, the case of wood and furniture is still different, where a third way is used, a sort of double track: the first provides for a fixed amount, in the final balance, on predefined and certainly identifiable indices, the second instead is linked to annual checks. , made on the basis of the general IPCA trend.


To save wages from inflation, CGIL, CISL and UIL have tried to pursue various strategies. For the confederal secretary of the CISL, Giulio Romani, it is necessary to act in two directions: «The first is to review the income policy because it is the only method to counter the inflationary spiral. The second is to encourage the spread of a second level of negotiation that redistributes the productivity that is achieved in the company ». Tiziana Bocchi, UIL confederal secretary, is convinced that «in industry, after all, the bargaining held up. Even the Pact for the factory on which we discussed for the problem of inflation because the IPCA net of imported energy costs is not the most appropriate indicator ». Even once the contracts have been renewed, however, «an overall wage problem remains – notes the trade unionist – and precisely for this reason our proposal was, and is, the tax reduction of increases and the strengthening of decentralized bargaining. With the tax deduction of performance bonuses ».

Different approaches

Among the major issues that are part of the daily life of workers, there is certainly the defense of wages from inflation, which can be greatly helped by the renewal of contracts. Imagining that they are decisive for filing it can run the risk of accentuating too much the emphasis on the minimums, reducing the negotiation between the parties to a tax approach, now somewhat dated. Precisely when today, to express their potential, contracts are called to open, also for the mutual convenience of the parties, to think about development, innovation, sector logic, employment and economic policies with which to regulate work in a sector, in a supply chain . Finding convergences, through a continuity of dialogue, which has been experimenting with pharmaceutical chemistry for many years and towards which other sectors such as engineering are also tending. Bargaining, in hindsight, can open reflections and create solutions for a productive world – and therefore of work – where we think more and more in terms of participation and supply chain, an aspect that must be taken into account especially in sectors such as food where the final part, the one not represented by the big brands, suffers a certain weakness. Among other things, in an increasingly global world, in which the market commands and where the link between capital and work must become ever closer. Also in favor of productivity where, in many areas, also due to more fragile investments in innovation, there is no growth that is expected in the face of very high labor costs, which partly benefits workers, but too much for the benefit of taxation, through taxes. The wage question should therefore be broadened, while taking into account the important contribution of bargaining and the increases it defines.

The themes

The latest agreements signed, starting with pharmaceutical chemistry, up to energy contracts, especially electricity, and going a little further back in time, even the mechanics and construction, have shared the need to strengthen industrial relations and participation, especially in this phase in which the sectors, albeit in a different way, are grappling with the management of digital and ecological transitions that have been indicated as strategic and have had a lot of weight in the dialogue between the parties. The transition also brought with it innovations that made it necessary to put a hand to the frameworks. The telecommunications that have almost completely rewritten them have done it, but also the mechanics, whose system dates back to 1973. In the latter case, the importance assumed by the role and the fact that the figure of the increase agreed in the last renewal was more consistent than the IPCA tout court because one part, the so-called additional component, was precisely linked to the “classification reform” operation. Still others have entrusted this chapter to special commissions, such as the energetic ones. On the subject, to cite another case, in previous rounds of contract renewal there have also been changes in pharmaceutical chemistry. At the same time, the training chapter has been strengthened: once again it is a coincidence that the metalworkers’ contract has made it a subjective right, while for many other contracts there has been a clear definition and also an increase in the number of hours that in a sector such as electricity, they have been raised to 40. Safety, which has become the center of a real pact between the parties complete with rewards, has prevailed in construction, also thanks to the enhancement of bilateralism. Energy and oil have imagined using it above all to manage the generational change which, for all sectors, is a major issue. Smart working, inclusion and equal opportunities were addressed in all negotiations and identified as important issues for the future.

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About Eric Wilson

The variety offered by video games never ceases to amaze him. He loves OutRun's drifting as well as the contemplative walks of Dear Esther. Immersing himself in other worlds is an incomparable feeling for him: he understood it by playing for the first time in Shenmue.

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