Anger at Italy foreign staff rights

A Scottish university lecturer working in Italy pleaded for EU help today against a bizarre Italian move to wipe the legal rights of foreign workers from the statute book.

David Petrie, who teaches English at Verona University, has been battling for years for equal rights for more than 100 non-Italian teaching staff - "lettori" - whose pay and conditions are inferior to those of their Italian counterparts.



The European Court of Justice has already ruled in favour of the "lettori" in six rulings on grounds of illegal discrimination.



But now, rather than comply with EU rules on equal treatment, the Italian government has authorised the scrapping of rights for foreign teaching staff, valid from next Saturday.



Mr Petrie, urging support from MEPs in Brussels, said: "On Saturday of this week an Italian law - the 'Gelmini reform' - comes into force, stripping myself and my colleagues, non-Italian lecturers working in Italian universities, of basic civil rights."



The change removes the right to equal treatment, defence, due process of law and the right to a judicial hearing on the merits of any legal claim.



Mr Petrie went on: "For 20-odd years, universities all over Italy, bankrolled by their paymaster the Italian state, have been wasting millions on lawsuits rather than paying foreigners the same wages as Italians.



"There are hundreds of court cases pending (but) the Berlusconi government's solution is to extinguish lettori law suits because that is literally what (the Gelmini reform) states: it 'extinguishes' all pending court cases, thereby legislating against European Court judgment, the EU Treaty, and stripping us of full citizens' rights."



In one case, Padua University has been ordered to pay five million euros (£4.3 million) in damages to compensate for years of unpaid arrears in wages to 14 lettori.



From Saturday, that obligation is technically ended by the new rule.



Yesterday, lawyers for the Association of Foreign Lecturers in Italy (ALLSI), of which Mr Petrie is chairman, wrote to the European Commission calling for the start of infringement proceedings against Italy.



Today Mr Petrie asked MEPs on the European Parliament's Legal Affairs Committee to draw up its own report for consideration by EU governments.



He said he was urging action on the issue "until the fundamental legal rights of non-Italian citizens are fully re-established in the Republic of Italy".



Verona University's Professor of Criminal Law, Lorenzo Picotti, has described his government's action as "a direct challenge to the rule of law and the authority of the European Court of Justice".



Scottish Conservative MEP Struan Stevenson said: "The lettori have struggled for justice and fair play in Italy for many years.



"It is a disgrace that their right to take a complaint to the Italian courts and have it judged by a magistrate will be effectively extinguished by a new law with effect from January 29.



"This law represents blatant discrimination against foreign workers in Italy and is a prima facie breach of the core principles of the single market and the free movement of people and goods in Europe. The commission must now act to bring Italy into line."

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC
tv

Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason

Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff
tv

Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Arts and Entertainment
tv

Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife
film

Matt Smith is set to join cast of the Jane Austen classic - with a twist

Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmWhat makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me
tv

Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama

Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes hobby look 'dysfunctional'
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Senior Infrastructure / Network Engineer (VMware, Windows, LAN/WAN)

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Primary teaching jobs in Thetford

£1036224 - £1513056 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Educatio...

Primary teaching jobs in the Swaffham area

£21552 - £31588 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Are you a fully quali...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week